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As a frontline health care professional, you are already accustomed to stress. While every patient case or emergency response may not noticeably affect you, daily stress can accumulate, along with the trauma of treating patients with especially difficult illnesses and injuries. It can be easy to ignore what may seem like a minor, or an occasional impact — until you realize that the impact is no longer minor.
Resiliency reduces the harmful effects of stress and trauma, acting as a buffer to help you maintain your well-being. Strengthening and adding protective factors, like social support, access to resources and caring for your physical health all serve to help you effectively counteract cumulative stress.
Health care professionals already know and understand the importance of physical health, but it can be easy to forget the basics when managing a hectic schedule or shiftwork. Mental and physical health are intricately linked, so every step you take for your physical health can also improve your mental health.
Whether you are building your resilience as a preventative measure, or seeking to add to your resiliency skills in new ways, there are many approaches you can take. Before getting into specific strategies, start with these essential steps.
Every step you take to manage stress and trauma puts you in a powerful position to improve and protect your mental health.
Resilience includes a sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem, optimism and the feeling of personal control and independence. Adding tools like social support, physical activity and other wellness strategies helps counteract the harmful effects of stress and trauma and makes it easier to cope.
Explore resources and share them with others, keep track of go-to coping strategies, and continue to look after your own physical health. It’s also a good idea to check in with your colleagues sometimes. Here are some suggestions to get started.
Sometimes you can regain perspective by ‘diagnosing’ a problem and planning logical solutions for working through it. Question assumptions you may have about difficult situations and have an open mind about ways to feel better.
Create a list of tips and resources that work for you, as well as a list of things you’re willing to try. Whether or not you find it easy to bounce back after a difficult experience, resiliency is a skill you can learn and enhance. Like any skillset, resiliency requires practice and reinforcement, and this can include trying new approaches to wellness.