Stress management is an important issue in our modern world, and some occupations are more acutely associated with stress than others. First responders like our EMTs nurses and doctors, especially with the current COVID-19 crisis, face enormous levels of stress daily. Without optimum stress management, these frontline medical professionals are vulnerable to the effects of stress, which can be extremely damaging to their physical and mental health.
Medical Responders and Job Stress
Stress is a significant factor of adult life. Struggling with mortgage payments, coping with the illness or death of a family member, dealing with a divorce or raising a family are all common causes of stress. Medical responders deal with these normal life stresses on top of their constant job stress. Working a double shift, dealing with the sudden loss of a colleague or patient, struggling with workplace conflict and a constant expectation to perform are all stressful parts of the job.
The Effects of Stress
There’s no telling how one individual or another will individually respond to chronic stress or a traumatic event. Some people will suffer from the physical effects of extreme stress, like high blood pressure, chest pain, ulcers, hair loss, weight gain or loss, develop aches and pains and a number of other ailments.
Some people turn to unhealthy lifestyle choices to alleviate their stress, such as drinking or using drugs, compulsive shopping or gambling. Stress can also be a trigger for suicidal thoughts. All the while, these feelings negatively affect job performance and personal life, creating a vicious cycle.
Effective Stress Management
Mastering stress management is tough when chronic stress plays a predominant role in your day-to-day work, yet it can be accomplished. There are many different strategies for coping with all types of stress. Exercising regularly works well for some, while meditating is the key to stress management for others. Improving nutrition, sleeping better, talking to friends and loved ones and much more can all contribute to reducing stress.
Among the first steps to managing your stress level is to recognize when stress is taking a toll on your life or leading you to make unhealthy choices such as drinking or using drugs. Stress is a major trigger for substance abuse and addiction so it’s important to stop turning to drugs or alcohol in order to feel better or alleviate stress. If you do find that stress is negatively impacting your life or work, it’s essential to seek help.
Taking the Next Steps
If you are currently using drugs or alcohol to cope, you can turn to a substance abuse treatment center to assess the nature of your problem. Once in treatment, you’ll learn proven strategies for coping with stress and eliminating these substances from your life. You can also begin to manage stress more effectively by developing an exercise routine, speaking with a counselor or healthcare provider about your stress, practicing meditation, or turning to a new hobby.
At times like these, stress won’t go away by itself. You’ll have to tackle it head on. Once you do, you’ll begin to feel the relief that is essential to improving your life and profession.