Recognize Your Stress
May 9, 2018
Identifying stress is the first step in dealing with it
We know and recognize the stress that occurs in veterinary medicine. However, do we recognize the other stresses in life and know how much that impacts us? By making ourselves healthier, we become a better veterinary team member, enhancing the care we provide to our patients, clients, family and friends.
The first step is to identify what is going on around us and acknowledge that the stress exists. Then we can start to deal with it in a healthy way. We want to manage our stress, not the other way around.
Know your stress
If you have attended one of CATALYST VetPC’s “stressors and relievers” classes, then you know we like to pass out a “Life Stress Test” from the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. This lists several life events and assigns a numerical value to each one. Once completed, you obtain a score which is a basic indicator of the kind of stress you are currently dealing with in your life.
The amount of stress can be a predictor of the likelihood that you will also have a stress-related illness depending on your coping skills. The larger the number, the higher your possible susceptibility to illness and the need to focus on stress management skills and a healthier life style.
The stressors identified in this test are examples of external factors. There are also internal irritations that effect both your mental attitude and how you relate to the external influences. These are the voices in your head, whether real or perceived, must be recognized and managed as well.
- Fears – examples include death and public speaking
- Past experiences – when a similar situation occurs, anticipating the outcome repeating as well
- Lack of control – not knowing what will unfold and not being able to do anything about it (for example, waiting for the results of a medical test)
- Opinions – what others think or how they will react
- Expectations – of both yourself and what others expect of you (for example, your parent’s expectation of your career)
How do you know if you are handling your stress well or not? Identifying your stress triggers is important.
Knowing what causes you stress is vital and powerful information and the beginning steps toward living a healthier, stress-reduced life.
By paying attention to your body, you can guage how you are reacting to a situation. In addition, listen to the words that you are saying (either out loud or in your head). If the words are more negative or angry, then you may not be dealing with the stress well.
Watch how long you hang onto feelings. Is it a quick burst of anger and then it is gone, or are you still upset many days later? It’s OK to get mad under certain circumstances, and may even be healthy, it’s ultimately how you deal with it that affects your overall health.
Just like in walking, you take one step at a time. The first step is recognition. The second step is being able to manage your stress.
Knowing and understanding the type of stress you are under, and recognizing how you are handling it, is the beginning down the path that will help you deal with it. Stress will never go away. Identifying and managing it is our way to walk along the road of life.
Denise Mikita, MS, CVT
Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. http://www.compassionfatigue.org
Stress management. Know your triggers. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-management/art-20044151
Stress Triggers, How to Identify Yours. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rita-schiano/stress-triggers_b_878674.html