Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) in Stressful Times

Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) in Stressful Times

Apr 3, 2018
  • Author:
    Vicki Searcy
    Former VP, Consulting
    Vicki has managed several credentialing and privileging practices, led a national healthcare accreditation and compliance consulting practice, was a surveyor for the NCQA, and a former president of NAMSS.

Your staff has been cut. You can’t hire replacement staff. Your health system just announced a merger and you have been told that your provider database will be turned off in six months and you will need to merge your data into a database that you don’t know (and automatically don’t like). There are too few hours in the day. You are not getting enough sleep. You don’t feel well. Your favorite TV show was just cancelled. You have 100+ unread emails. You can't remember the names of your children.

Does the word STRESS come to mind? We can’t eliminate stress from our work environment (or our lives, for that matter). Sometimes it feels as if we are not in control of our time and that contributes to the stress that we experience on a daily basis. One of the things that I’ve found that helps: Taking time at the beginning of each day to prioritize the things that I must accomplish (professional and personal). I know that this sounds like a no-brainer, but it is so easy to start working on an important project without taking inventory of what needs to be accomplished and thinking through my schedule for the day or week. I’ve also built in (not every day but pretty regularly) some undisturbed time where I can work on projects. That means that I put a “do not disturb” on my phone and go off of email for an hour or so, depending upon what I need to accomplish that day.

According to experts, here are proven methods for relieving stress:

Step 1:
Breathe. Sit back in your chair (close your eyes) and take a long breath in. Hold your breath for a few seconds and slowly exhale. Repeat four to five times. Going back to the basics of simply breathing will help you relieve anxiety. (You’ve heard of the One-Minute Manager? This is the One-Minute Stress Reliever!) Have a cup of tea or coffee (forget the alcohol – that won’t help). Book a massage.

Step 2:
Take a break. Get up and stretch. Take a brisk walk – even 10-15 minutes will help. Plan lunch with a friend. Or even better, join a colleague for a walk over your lunch break. Don’t take your cell phone with you. Taking a few minute "mini-vacation" from your responsibilities is just what your mind needs to cut the stress and recharge.

Step 3:
Focus. Nothing creates stress faster than trying to do two things at once. Multi-tasking doesn’t always work. Instead of multi-tasking, keep a prioritized to-do list. Use your list to set daily goals, and then focus on one item at a time. And while you're working, ban all distractions. Close your email. Put your phone on "do not disturb." Or better yet, work somewhere where you can't be found. The more organized and focused you become, the more you will enjoy your work!

Step 4:
Find balance. Try not to take your work home with you (at least not every day). Stop striving for perfection – you’ll never get there. Make time for family and friends. Get regular exercise. Take up a hobby. Take your dog for a long walk. And most importantly, do whatever makes you smile. Happiness is the best stress release!

And remember, stress isn't bad, it just has to be managed.

Stress can't be avoided, particularly right now in these turbulent times that are impacting all of our organizations, our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  However, a certain amount of stress can actually help you stay motivated and do your best.  The key is to find ways to break the tension before it has a negative effect on your outlook...your personal life...and your sanity.  Take a few minutes to find the solutions that work best for you.