At the May 8th All Staff meetings, Director of Process Improvement and Risk Management, Rayshawn Wilson, PC, LICDC-CS handed out stress assessments for each staff member to fill out for their own assessment. On the list, were common events from lower stress items to the highest possible stressors such as death of a spouse or close family member. There is a point scale associated with stressful events. Moving, for example, is high on the list. (Usually accompanied by the statement, ‘where did all this stuff come from?!) Being downsized or starting a new job is also highly stressful. We all have multiple roles in life, each with its own set of demands. Having some stress can be a motivating and productive thing.
His presentation covered the work environment and what contributes to stress- sometimes its communication related, sometimes perception or (mis-perception) in addition to different styles of management. Children and teens require one be ‘on’ top of one’s game. Working with teens in crisis is not always easy. Teamwork is essential and leadership is a quality, as much as it is a role.
Wilson talked about how stress has real physiological symptoms associated with it such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, ulcers, skin diseases, impaired immune systems, musculoskeletal disorders, even heart disease and cancer- and the need to take care of oneself! Psychological consequences might include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, sleeplessness, frustration, family problems and/or burnout. As a (poor) coping mechanism, some might engage in excessive smoking, substance abuse, suffer accident proneness, appetite disorders or express themselves in uncharacteristic violent outbursts.
Managing stress includes regular exercise. Walking is an important one. Being realistic and taking one thing at a time is useful. Practicing healthy habits and using planning skills is a more deliberate approach that works effectively. He advised, ‘live your life by plan, and not default.’ By setting goals and milestones to work towards, you have a greater sense of purpose and direction. Along with systematic relaxation, regular meditation is proven to be helpful. Simplifying one’s life (and role) can be aided with delegating or asking for help. Take it easy with criticism (including self-criticism) and take time off- don’t be a ‘hero’ and invite burn-out.
Other tips include avoiding un-necessary competition, recognizing and accepting personal limits, a focus on enjoying what you do, and having social support networks. The Pomegranate team was receptive, from direct care staff to unit clerks, youth leaders to facilities, nurses to therapists and administration. Though the All Staff training sessions are required, staff looks forward to learning new things, as new speakers and workshops are continually brought on board, and goodies are always provided. No doubt, warm fresh cookies, helped lower stress and make folks smile.
[photo credit: throbbing migraine headache from Wikimedia Commons 18 Dec 2012, Sasha Wolf.]
For more information via video, see the
UCTV University of California Television Mini-Medical Model Coping with Stress Series:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BbHW3H_xmo cognitive behavioral intervention
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joWu9CH9NmY staying sane through difficult times