It’s the most stressful time of the year…

Well here we are in December again – already. The time of year when every one of us is celebrating something. The diverse tapestry of our society gives us exposure to so many wonderful traditions, it’s tempting to want to experience everything.

So we can all get a tad stressed with all the chores and commitments that accompany the festivities. You, your patients and your staff… we’re pulled in many directions.

Some stress is positive: daily deadlines and stretch goals give a sense of productivity and achievement. But how do you lessen the negative stress and carry on business as usual?

Here are a few pointers I’ve assembled:

  1. Clear communication is one of the best ways to alleviate stress. Whether or not we like what we hear, knowing the facts removes anxiety.
  2. Use team meetings to discuss what is working and what could work better. Shared problem solving is proven to build accountability, buy-in and purpose.
  3. Having performance benchmarks in place – Key Performance Indicators – makes it straightforward to monitor and track progress and help everyone know where they stand.
  4. In most cases, anxiety is caused not by an event, but by how we choose to deal with it. Poorly handled stress is a chief cause of workplace illness. So train your team on how to recognize stress and react: the basic techniques of counting to ten, taking a walk, focusing on facts, practising empathy – they all can help. Remembering that others are also under stress, and don’t get up in the morning planning to irritate you.
  5. Understand that different people have different ways of managing stress. In today’s diverse, multi-generational workforce, there are many differing styles, priorities and motivators. Men and women handle stress differently, so it’s good to recognize the need to distract or retreat (men) against the need to talk and be listened to (women).
  6. More than at any other time of year, staff appreciate a bit of flexibility in their schedule in December. Who wouldn’t relish a 10:00 am trip to the mall on a weekday? This can be do-able if the team is willing to bank hours and cover for each other as they take their turn. Time is often the best gift you can give.
  7. At the risk of preaching to the choir… stay healthy. Encourage flu shots, hand washing and liberal doses of hand sanitizer for your team and your patients.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!