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Managing Mental Fatigue and Stress

stressblog
July 14, 2020

Tips for Managing Mental Fatigue and Stress
In the wake of the corona outbreak, many of us are being asked to bend and adapt in extraordinary ways to new challenges. This turbulence and upheaval, whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, can take a marked toll on mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to recognize that exceptional circumstances require a commensurate investment of emotional and physical energy to navigate such demands. 

Understanding Stress and How to Identify it
In times when the compounding worries about job security, shifting social climate, unpredictability of the future, and the health and safety of loved ones quickly add up, you should be especially cognizant about stress and the problems it can cause. While often dismissed as a trivial or unavoidable modern affliction, stress — especially chronic stress — can actually have disastrous effects, both personally and among employees in your veterinary practice. How can we identify and manage it?

How Stress Can Affect Mental Health

  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Impaired faculties of judgment
  • Depletion of mental stamina
  • Increased risk for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders

How Stress Can Affect Physical Health

  • Depletion of energy
  • Aches, pains, and muscle tension
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal distress

How Stress Can Affect Emotional Health

  • Agitation, frustration, anger and moodiness
  • Avoidance behavior and other neuroses
  • Poor coping mechanisms like excess alcohol and drug use

Healthy Coping Mechanisms and Managing Stress
Now that we know how to identify it, how can we address it? Every person’s body reacts to the stress they experience in different ways, but happily there are many actionable options to combat it.

  • Get outside. Getting outdoors has been proven to offer restorative, mood-boosting effects by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. Enjoying a short walk during lunchtime is a great way to incorporate some fresh air into your day.
  • Practice meditation, mindfulness or yoga. Deep relaxation and tranquility of mind promote self-awareness, calm, focus on the present and emotional stability. 
  • Laugh! Put on a funny movie, watch some stand-up comedy or indulge in your favorite comic strip. Humor can actually be a powerful tool to help moderate the neurochemicals involved in the fight-or-flight stress response.  
  • Take frequent small breaks throughout the day to step back from the workload and reorient yourself. 

Cultivating a Lifestyle Conducive to Mental and Physical Well-being
A healthy lifestyle consisting of regular practice of any or all of the activities below is in itself a wonderful prophylactic measure!

  • Maintain a healthy diet. We all know how crucial this is for physical health and it’s no less important for mental health. 
  • Exercise. Exercise is your body’s natural stress reliever, and regular physical activity is a well-documented means of releasing feel-good neurotransmitters. Use this as an occasion to reconnect with your body’s needs.
  • Establish a routine. It’s easy to let quarantine and self-isolation break your normal patterns, but these patterns keep us productive, motivated and regulated; and they contribute to our sense of control. Cultivate healthy habits including a regular sleep-wake cycle, standard work and recreation hours and timely meals. 

Tending to our Emotional Needs
Nobody is going through this alone. Avail yourself of all the (responsibly distanced) social resources to make sure your emotional needs are met. 

  • Seek support from the community by connecting with clubs, advocacy groups, and communal or faith-based organizations.
  • Communicate with your family and friends when you need to vent or express your feelings.
  • Communicate with your coworkers. You’re all adapting to the new circumstances as best you can; maintain an open line of communication so you can identify problems and improve the workflow.
  • Keep a healthy media diet. Take breaks from news and social media as needed.
  • Cultivate an amenable work environment and have confidence in the efficacy of the safety precautions your practice has put in place.
  • Set aside some “self-care/me” time. Do what you enjoy.
  • Focus on the things which are under your control and do the best you can under those parameters. 
  • Foster a sense of purpose. What you’re doing is important, and you’re doing your part to keep the world functioning.

Mental fatigue and stress can be dangerous byproducts of today’s world, so now more than ever we should be proactive about our mental health as an integral component of personal and professional well-being. 

Covetrus North America has the products, medications and services that veterinary practices need. For more information, contact your Covetrus North America representative by calling (855) 724-3461.

 

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/mental-health-non-healthcare.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.stress.org/how-being-outdoors-and-getting-active-impacts-stress-management

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002962915361929

 

 

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