While a career in healthcare is fulfilling, rewarding, and exciting, there is also an undeniable truth about a job in the medical field: it is stressful. Healthcare can be high-pressure. From patient demands to making ethical choices to emotional/psychological tests, healthcare workers can face negative consequences to their physical and mental health when faced with stress at their jobs. According to a study conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, “Healthcare workers can suffer from occupational stress as a result of lack of skills, organisational factors, and low social support at work. This may lead to distress, burnout and psychosomatic problems, and deterioration in quality of life and service provision.”
Stress can compromise a nurse or aide’s ability to perform their duties efficiently and thoroughly. It impacts patient safety, satisfaction, and health outcomes. It can also permeate other aspects of a healthcare professional’s life outside of work. Burnout and compassion fatigue can happen if healthcare professionals do not regularly assess and address their own mental health. Managing stress through healthy coping mechanisms and regular self check-ins is the key to positive mental health for a healthcare professional.
Self-check ins are ways for medical professionals to evaluate their mental health. They allow for self-reflection, release of negative emotions, and a reset of your state of mind. Jordan Madison, LCMFT states, “Your mind and body are the only places you live in, despite whatever changes around you. Checking in with yourself and assessing your needs helps you to pour into yourself so that you can pour into others. Oftentimes, we check on those around us but neglect ourselves. It's beneficial because it can improve your mood, your energy, your relationships with others, and your productivity."
There are many ways to check-in with yourself, and it’s important to incorporate mental-health check-ins into your daily routine. This prevents you from neglecting your mental health, deflecting emotions, and coping in unhealthy ways. Healthcare professionals struggling to perform self check-ins can ask themselves the following questions:
How am I feeling today?
What do I need right now at this moment?
What is taking up most of my thoughts right now?
What are my eating/sleeping/exercise habits like right now?
What can I do to feel better/happier?
Pairing mental health check-ins with self-care rituals like journaling or meditation can help you as a healthcare professional incorporate them into your daily routine. These daily check-ins can help you decide if you need to take action in regards to your emotions. Taking action can look like seeking support through colleagues and loved ones or through professional help like therapy. Be Well Indiana (https://bewellindiana.com) offers mental health resources for Indiana residents including a 24/7 Crisis Helpline. They also offer a free mental health assessment (https://screening.mhanational.org) that can get you started on your mental health journey.
Stress is part of the job description if you are a healthcare worker. The CDC states, “How you cope with these emotions can affect your well-being, the care you give to others while doing your job, and the well-being of the people you care about outside of work.” Through self check-ins, medical professionals can take control of their mental health, overall well-being, and success of their career.