Welcome to question of the day #300

Eyetools question of the day #300

I’m struggling to keep up at work in a community eye care practice. I feel very stressed. It’s been going on for a couple of years and I realise I need to do something. Do you have any suggestions?

This sounds like long-term stress from a high-pressure job.

I know what it feels like. Challenging patients lead us to run behind in our schedules; we have to deliver bad news to patients; some colleagues don’t get on; we worry about our prescribing rate; add to that family and life admin issues. This can be unpleasant, and it can seriously affect our health and our work.

The techniques I describe below are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness.

Stress has been described as ‘a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.’

We experience stress when we feel ‘out of control.’

Different people handle stress differently, in different situations: you’ll handle stress better if you’re confident in your abilities if you can change the situation to take control, and if you feel that you have the help and support needed to do a good job.

Some common signs and symptoms of stress:

Frequent headaches

Panic attacks

Excessive sleeping, or insomnia

Difficulty concentrating

Obsessive or compulsive behaviours

Constant fatigue

Irritability and angry episodes.

Sounds as if your workload is causing some of your stress. Not managing your time well can be a source of stress. Ask another eye care specialist to shadow you during a part of the day to see where you can better manage your time. Maybe you are doing unnecessary tests or talking too much with patients or letting them talk too much to you. Or maybe there is a technique you struggle with and could do with more training or perhaps you need more of better equipment.

Also, avoid multitasking, only check your phone at certain times.

People can be a significant source of stress. If these people are part of your stress then seek help from the manager or a senior colleague. Perhaps other people need more training or perhaps they need to be replaced.

Workspace stress can come from irritating, frustrating, uncomfortable, or unpleasant conditions in the workplace. Is your chair comfortable? Is your room too hot or too cold? Does all your equipment work as it should? If not you can raise these issues with the manager.

Some stress is part of everyday work but when it becomes too much it can bring harm to patients, to you, and to the business.