Gabrielle Parkinson, Executive Coach
Being mindful of what you are doing right now and/or what you are focused on at the moment is perhaps that first step in making minor shifts and changes that can have a significant impact on reducing your level of stress. And it all starts with pulling yourself into the present moment. Here are some simple steps for relieving unnecessary stress:
- Take responsibility for your stress level. Regardless of the challenges you face at the hospital or in private practice, and in personal life, it all starts with you and how you are taking care of yourself. Being aware of how you feel, and of your immediate environment gives you the edge you need and allows you to be effective in handling yourself and others. This approach allows you to be your best, including with the work in front of you. What is critical is being aware of your thoughts and what you are focusing on. If you are stressed about the past, work to let it go and pull yourself into present; if you are thinking or worrying about the future, stop and pull yourself back to the tasks at hand.
A Simple technique: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and, put both hands on your heart and say “I am aware of what I am feeling right now.” Repeat 3 times. Use your breath to bring you back to present time.
- Create support systems for yourself in the hospital or outside your work environment. This can have a direct impact on how you are managing stress. Cultivate colleagues and those you respect to discuss important issues and be collaborative in finding solutions to situations that need to resolved or changed. When you are feeling positive and supported, your stress levels are reduced. Be open to having a mentor or confidante who can honestly talk with you about issues and situations that come up. Recognize that there are times when you may not have all the answers yourself and need the input of people you respect – this can be very valuable.
Simple technique: Intentionally create support in your professional life and work environment and/or recognize all the support that already exists.
- Create a peaceful home environment that is a support for you. Cultivating a supportive spouse/partner relationship can make a huge difference in your stress levels. Your home and your relationship can be your “safe haven zone” where you automatically unwind and relax. It is important to let your partner/spouse know what you need to relax and rejuvenate. What does help you to relieve stress – relaxing music, an orderly home environment, free time to do what you want to do, or exercise that works for your body?Simple technique: Communicate with your spouse/partner and together create a home environment that helps you relax and rejuvenate.
- Manage your work schedule so that you compartmentalize your intense work time, your less intense work time and then time to relax and rejuvenate—even if it is only ten minutes. Be conscious about when you are feeling overly stressed and find yourself becoming “triggered” or reactive to situations in a non-productive way. When your work schedule gets too full, find a way to create a schedule that allows you time to access some inner calm and relieve stress, so you can be responsive, productive and healthy for your patients. Be in tune with what works for you.
Simple technique: Be honest with yourself and pay attention to when you need to make some changes in your work schedule. Ask your staff for help in ways you and your office staff can be more time efficient with and relieve unnecessary stress.
- Do what is known to be effective. Mindful meditation is practiced by medical professionals around the world. Develop either an extensive or simple practice of it, depending on what you want and need. Doing a simple meditation practice on a daily basis – relaxing your body and mind—for just 10 minutes a day can reduce your stress level immediately. Find a meditation technique that resonates with you – that is easy and comfortable for you has been shown to work for millions of professionals. This may involve finding a quiet space and comfortable position or activity. The key is to focus on your breathing –in and out — which will keep you in the present, and thus relieve stress.
Doing a simple meditation on a daily basis consistently can have a huge impact on lowering your stress level.
Simple technique: Just get started. Find a comfortable quiet place with no distractions and just begin by with 3 deep breaths. Work your way up to 10 minutes or more, as you want.
Ultimately, you want to create a daily practice for yourself and build in activities that help you manage your stress levels. Your daily practice consists of whatever you choose to do that effectively reduces your stress level.
It may consist of: mindful meditation, creating quiet space, eating clean, healthy food, listening to relaxing music, personal writing, exercising: walking, running, doing Yoga or Tai Ching, Swimming, etc., being out in nature, etc. Whatever allows you to relax more and makes you feel good.
Your goal is to achieve a healthy career/life balance where you are enjoying a rich, personal life and and a productive, satisfying professional life. And this begins with YOU, making new choices.
Gabrielle Parkinson, M.A., is a certified Executive Coach and specializes in career and life transitions. You can reach her at 707-407-6828 or visit her site: firstname.lastname@example.org