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By Carla Perrotta
It's2 a.m. You're into the 11th hour of your double shift. You missed your dinnerbreak and so you're inhaling a candy bar and a soda while you review thedoctor's orders from the earlier shift. You've just had a run-in with theon-call resident over an allergic reaction to the medications. The family of thepatient across the hall needs some reassurance about his progress. Registrationjust called to inform you that you've got an admission. In the five hours thatyou get between or, before your next shift, you have to get your kids to daycare, walk the dog, get the shopping done, get some shut eye and be back for the3 p.m. shift to do it all over again.
Sound familiar? A typical, stress-filled day in the life of a healthcareworker. No doubt the job is getting more and more stressful every day with thecontinuing consolidations, reorganizations, sicker patients, labor shortages andtighter resources, to name but a few.
So what exactly is stress? The best definition I've come across is thatstress is the "wear and tear" we experience both physically andemotionally as we adjust to our continually changing environment.
Not all stress is bad. Each of us reacts to changing circumstances a littledifferently. What is stressful to one person might be inspirational to another,compelling them to peak performance. Even within ourselves, the same events thatprecipitate stress one day we may take in stride the next, calmly or evenhumorously shrugging them off.
All too often, however, stress manifests itself in a negative manner -resulting in feelings of distrust, paralysis of action, anger and depression.Most illnesses--including headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers,high blood pressure, even heart disease and stroke--are related to unrelievedstress.
So how do we eliminate the bad stress or convert it to the good kind?
Remember, stress is a choice. Every day, you can choose to be happy or sad,stressed or relaxed. The "Serenity Prayer" of theologian RheinholdNiebuhr, adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, reflects this so well: "... grantme the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change thethings I can; and the wisdom to know the difference-living one day at a time;enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway topeace."
Carla Perrotta has 22 years in the healthcare staffing industry and isresponsible for all business operations related to Kelly Healthcare Resources, abusiness unit of staffing provider Kelly Services Inc., based in Troy, Mich.Kelly Healthcare Resources provides healthcare staffing solutions to hospitals,clinics, businesses, healthcare facilities, insurance companies, HMOs andclinical research organizations.