Finding balance to reduce stress

Hallmark Health sponsors wellness strategies seriesBalanceArt

Many research studies have demonstrated a link between stress and patient safety. According to one study, the most frequent stress-induced safety events include errors or omissions in documentation, potential medication errors and delays in delivering care.

“Unchecked stress takes a toll on people,” said Carol Plotkin, LICSW, director of Behavioral Health. “Stress contributes to fatigue and distraction and can impede decision making. It may have an impact on the immune system’s ability to fight infection.”

For these reasons, it’s important for health care workers to monitor their stress and recognize stressors. “It’s natural for nurses, for example, to volunteer to pick up an extra shift if a unit is shorthanded because they believe it’s for the good of the unit,” said Plotkin. “But sometimes it’s important to step back and recognize the potential downside of this – the fact that high stress levels actually can compromise productivity.”

The key is balance. Everyone who has flown has heard the flight attendant announce that if the oxygen masks drop adults should put on their own mask first before fitting a
mask on their child. While that is counterintuitive for a parent, it achieves balance – “you can’t help someone else if you are
compromised,” said Plotkin.

The need for balance is particularly acute during the holidays when there are added stressors on top of those that health care workers deal with every day at work. To help staff find the balance they need to cope with stress, Hallmark Health is sponsoring a series of Wellness Strategies for the Holidays sessions in November and December. “The sessions are intended to help staff reduce some of the burdens they put on themselves at this time of year,” she added, “so they can be at their best while on the job.”

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