Changing Attitudes About Stress

Stress is something we all have to deal with at work and outside it, and that is especially true of the healthcare professions, where the lives or the quality of life of the patients you care for often are at stake.  As a physical, occupational or speech therapist you are no doubt well aware that stress is something that can cause health problems. Because stress can be so debilitating, organizations have tried to make people aware of stress, what it can do and ways to deal with it.

But one of the big problems in dealing with stress may be in the way we perceive it.  To get people to do something about stress, most of the information given to them focuses on the negative aspects of it the fact that it is the number one health threat in the United States (according to the World Health Organization), or that a majority of visits to the doctor are stress related, or that stress has been connected to the leading causes of death.

But this way of looking at the problem actually may make it worse because people bring on added stress by thinking about what stress is doing to them. Would it help if people thought about stress differently?  To see if perceiving stress differently would help, researchers worked with almost 400 managers to see if a change in mindset could affect their health.

Instead of looking at stress in a negative way, the researchers helped the managers to actually see it in a more positive way. They did this by giving them additional information about stress. They told them that stress can make the brain use more of its capacity, improve memory and intelligence, increase productivity, and even lessen recovery time from surgery. Stress can lead to more mental resiliency, greater awareness, and new ways of looking at things.

When people looked at stress more in this positive way, rather than negatively, they actually used it to help get things done. They reported having more energy and not as many physical problems that are associated with stress, such as headaches, backaches, and fatigue. They also reported being more productive.

The researchers then worked with another group of 200 managers, highlighting how they could use stress to help them. They talked about having an awareness of stress, understanding why they might be feeling stress, and then attempting to shift the response to the stress to try and improve performance. By doing this, the negative effects of stress again declined, and the stress worked to actually help them become more effective and improve their health.

The researchers emphasize that they are not trying to refute the notion that stress does indeed have negative effects, which they say is beyond doubt, only that it can help to balance out this negative side with a change in the way we perceive stress.

Don’t stress yourself out. Here at Centra Healthcare Solutions, we have many rehab therapy positions just waiting for a skilled professional to fill them. Whether you’re looking for the excitement of a travel therapy job, the flexibility of temporary positions or if you desire a regular, full-time position, contact us today.

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