Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes
It is a year to the day that the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the U.S. It has been an intense one. The hope is that the next 12 months will not be like the last, though some things do not change.
Workplace stress doesn’t change. If anything, the coronavirus made it worse. Today we hope to give solutions to the toll of stress—for you and your co-workers.
Finally, know that you are appreciated and seen. And, if we were able, the Florence Health team would wrap our arms around you in our gratitude for your commitment to care for others. Consider this a virtual hug from us to you.
What to do about your stiff neck?
Sometimes when we are stressed, tension manifests in different areas of our bodies—our shoulders, our jaws, and our necks. The result is discomfort above the shoulders and even headaches.
How should you diffuse this stress response? The first step is to recognize what’s causing it. A couple of unseeing culprits are:
Poor posture. Whether you are slouching or looking down too much, these posture faux pas cause your head, shoulders, and middle back to pull forward. As a result, your muscles try to pull you back into alignment which makes them feel tight and stiff.
Fix it: Sit and stand with your head, shoulders, ribs, and hips stacked and aligned.
Shallow breathing. Stress can make you a chest breather, or a shallow breather, which makes your body rely on its accessory breathing muscles in the chest and back—overworking them and making them tight and stiff.
Fix it: Take deep belly breaths or deep sighs.Next, try to be proactive. Come up with plans on how to handle the various stressful situations in your life and at your workplace. Stretch each day to help prevent or release the muscle tightness you’re experiencing. Here are six moves that can help.
Detoxing work relationships
The workplace is stressful enough without dealing with a co-worker that creates more negative interactions than positive ones. Here are a few signs that you’re in a toxic relationship at work, according to Julianna Richter at The Startup:
- You rarely hear words of encouragement. For example: ‘Thank you for this’ or ‘Great job today.’
- You receive constant criticism instead of constructive criticism.
- Your work relationship dominates your entire life.
- You don’t feel (or look) as good as you did.
Any of this sound familiar? If so, it’s time to reset your boundaries. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can change how you react to them. Richter suggests starting with small but deliberate actions like establishing ground rules about how you will interact with the offending person.
Sometimes it’s the small things
During the pandemic, healthcare professionals have faced psychological stress and even mental illness. It has been reported that up to 55% of HCPs experience depression. This makes a new study looking at the relationship between workplace interactions and suicidal thoughts more relevant than usual.
According to research done at the University of West Virginia, perceived low-grade forms of workplace mistreatment—such as ignoring a colleague’s greeting, avoiding eye contact, or excluding a coworker from a conversation—can amplify suicidal thoughts in persons with mood disorders.
Prior research found that these same minor workplace snuffs reduced employee engagement, and this lack of engagement increases self-harm thoughts in those suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.
While these actions are not egregious or illegal, they can be perceived as negative interactions. Virtual communication can easily be misconstrued, especially if you add a layer of instability. Something to keep in mind as you interact with your colleagues and others, whether you know that they are living with a mental condition or not.
ONE BIG NUMBER
The number of lights turned on along the perimeter of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington DC last night—each one representing 1,000 people lost to the coronavirus. If you didn’t see the service, watch Michigan nurse Lori Marie Key introduce soon-to-be President Biden and sing “Amazing Grace.”
An anesthesiologist’s cute Covid tale from across the pond.