A friend recently forwarded this gem to me that’s stayed in my mind: “I’m so tired my tired is tired!”
That sums up what pretty much everyone I know has shared as a constant refrain: How stressed they feel at work….and in life.
We seem to go from one set of “multitasks” to another, with not much time to sit back and reflect. Deadlines always creep up. There’s always a craft or activity which needs prep work, last-minute trips to Target and yet another take-out meal.
But, at least for me, kids aside, my deadlines don’t directly involve being responsible for someone else’s life.
Health care workers on the other hand? Absolutely. Day in and day out.
THAT stress is hard to wrap my brain around. It’s not one that you often even think about.
Physician burnout and stress in health care workers
Daniel Pacheco, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, recently spotlighted the need for health care workers to de-stress on a regular basis in this insightful interview on KJZZ, Phoenix’s National Public Radio affiliate.
“The work never ends….you see the patients, you clear them out…well there’s another 10 waiting to come in,” Dr. Pacheco notes in the interview.
If not dealt with appropriately, it can lead to physician burnout, he warns.
Consider this startling statistic from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Male physicians have a 70 percent higher suicide rate than men in other professions; female physicians die by suicide at a 400 percent higher rate than women in other professions.
Dr. Pacheco says doctors, nurses, emergency and other health care providers, through their training, feel the pressure to be the champion, healer and educator, with little wiggle room to take care of themselves.
So what should health workers do? Patients do come first, says Dr. Pacheco, but we are human as well and (mental health) issues shouldn’t be brushed aside.
He has these 5 tips for health care workers to keep in mind:
- Take a few deep breaths several times a day and focus on the present moment
- Take a walk or move away from your primary area of work during break time; physically change your environment
- Each day list three things you are grateful for
- In your to-do list, add something that is just for you. For example, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or buy a coffee or treat just for yourself
- Smile often
And while they should put patients first, Dr. Pacheco says it’s as important to be mindful of their own needs, to continue to be able to help, and heal others.