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Stress is part of the job for health care workers

Chocolates and flowers may get one day in February, but the entire month is dedicated to hearts — and not necessarily of the cardboard variety. February is American Heart Month and calls attention to cardiovascular health and wellbeing.

All workers should make caring for their health a priority, but for some workers, it may need to be higher up on the list. In a nationwide survey by CareerBuilder and MiracleWorkers.com — its job site for workers in a range of health care disciplines — health care workers were found to experience the most stress in their jobs compared to all other industries. Sixty-nine percent of health care workers feel stressed in their current job. Of more concern, one in six health care workers are “highly stressed.”

In an industry that regularly deals with life or death concerns, this high level of stress may come as no surprise. However, it’s important not only to keep this level of stress in mind if you’re considering joining the industry, but also if you want to thrive in it. Read on to learn more about stress in specific industries, on the job and healthy ways to deal with it.

Health care and other stressful industries

Workers in health care top the list of professionals who report feeling stress in their job, but they do have some competition. Workers in professional and business services, retail and financial services also experience higher levels of stress than all U.S. workers in non-government positions.

The following shows the percentage of each industries’ workers who report they feel stress in their current jobs.

“Stress is part of the environment in many health care settings, but high levels sustained over a long-period of time can be a major detriment to employee health and ultimately stand in their way of providing quality care to patients,” says Jason Lovelace, president of CareerBuilder Healthcare. “As individual workloads increase, administrators must ensure employees are getting the support they need to perform their best. That may involve expanding headcount or adjusting schedules and paid time off policies.”

Fifty-five percent of health care workers say their workload has increased over the past year; 13 percent say substantially so. One in four workers say they plan to change jobs in 2014 (25 percent).

Loving your job helps

While health care workers and other industry professionals experience higher levels of stress than all U.S. full-time workers, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unhappy in their jobs. According to the survey, 64 percent of health care workers are satisfied in their current roles — five points higher than the average for all full-time workers (59 percent).

Certainly some qualities of health care make the stress more bearable, such as forming relationships with your co-workers and patients, providing the means to improve peoples’ lives and seeing that effort come to fruition when patient health improves. Finding what makes your job enjoyable is one big step in managing stress and finding job satisfaction.

Dealing with stress

Even if you love your job, though, it may not be enough to keep your stress at a healthy, manageable level. No matter what industry you’re in, there are ways you can manage your stress and work towards a more calming and capable workday. Consider these tips for lowering stress levels and improving your health:

  • Take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating foods that keep your body satisfied and full of energy, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep.
  • Condense your calendars, to-do lists and reminders into one central source to manage your responsibilities and avoid missed deadlines or appointments.
  • Take short breaks from your desk or workplace to sidestep fatigue and allow yourself to mentally reset.
  • Have hobbies and interests outside of work that can keep you from fixating on job-related concerns.

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