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Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 4:13 PM
 

February was Heart Month in Canada. Heart Month brings attention to the importance of cardiovascular health and encourages Canadians to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, but certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk.

One of the main risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure and stress. Elevated levels of stress can strain the cardiovascular system, increasing the chance of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

A source of stress for many practitioners may be their workplace. Often, practitioners will experience added stress from working long hours, constantly helping clients reduce their own stress, and fluctuating income.

Below are strategies practitioners can use to help reduce their workplace stress.


Track Your Stressors

Track what is causing stress by keeping a stress journal. Take note of when you felt stress, what caused it, and how you responded to it. Over time, you may begin to notice stress patterns or that certain people, situations, or clients are triggers.  

It is important to note how you are reacting to your stress. Are you bottling it up and ignoring it, or are you acting on it? Remember to note your emotional response to each stressful situation.

Keeping track of what is causing your stress at work is an important first step to reducing it.

Take a Break

Remember, it is okay to take a break if you need it. Try going for a walk on your lunch break, meditating between clients, or taking some time off work when you feel burnt out. Taking a break can give your body some much needed time to relax and recover.


Learn Relaxation Techniques

There are many techniques that you can employ to help you relax. Using these techniques when you feel yourself becoming stressed can be an effective way to calm down and make rational decisions about managing your stressors.

Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can help to immediately reduce your stress. Building a meditation practice can have positive long-term effects.

Developing a relaxation practice can also help improve your performance at work. Being able to relax can help you focus better, make rational decisions, and keep you present in the moment instead of getting caught up with what is going on inside your head.


Set Boundaries for Yourself

As a practitioner, it is important for you to set boundaries for yourself in your practice. Clients may come in for a treatment when they are stressed and looking for relief. For some clients, this could mean talking about their stress during treatment.

It is important to remind clients that you are not a trained mental health professional. While it may be helpful for clients to talk about their stress, it is not your professional responsibility to counsel them.

If practitioners don't set boundaries, they may take on some of the stress their clients are feeling. If a client is needs someone to talk to, encourage them to see a mental health professional or a psychologist.

This will also help clients get the most out of their treatment by allowing them to fully relax instead of spending the whole treatment talking about their stressors.


Reach Out to Others for Support

If you are struggling to cope with your stress on your own, consider reaching out for support.

You could talk to someone you feel comfortable with about your stress or if you have a supervisor at work, reach out to that person about any workplace stress you are having. They may be able to help you take the steps you need to reduce it.

If you find it challenging to manage stress on your own, it might also be worthwhile to seek out profession help from a mental health professional or psychologist. These professionals are trained help people overcome stress with various coping strategies.


Get Enough Sleep and Eat Well

What you eat has a significant impact on how your body deals with stress. Different nutrients can affect how to body responds to stress. Avoiding foods that are high in sugars, fats, and refined carbohydrates can help your body avoid energy crashes. Avoiding caffeine can help you improve your sleep.

Sleep is crucial for your body to cope with stress. Stress and chronic insomnia are linked, because lack of sleep can cause stress and stress can make it difficult to sleep.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can inhibit coping with a normal amount of stress, let alone an elevated level of stress that may be caused by work.

It is import to try to get eight hours of sleep each night. Sticking to a schedule of consistent sleep and wake-up times will also help your body adjust and sleep better during those hours. Avoiding screen time at least one hour before bed can also make falling asleep easier.

Ultimately, if you are feeling stressed from work, it is important to advocate for yourself. Finding simple ways to cope with stress is important, but if you find that your stress is becoming unmanageable, consider reaching out for help or taking a step back to fully recover.