How Stress Inflammation Affects Healthcare Workers' Health
Ever find yourself constantly fatigued, anxious, and unable to work? Or, maybe one of your healthcare workers keeps calling in sick every other week. Inflammation due to stress may be the culprit.
As a healthcare worker, you probably already know what inflammation is, or have an idea. In simple terms, inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system fights to defend the body from harm, such as infections, toxins, injuries, and even stress.
Inflammation isn’t that bad when it occurs for a short period (acute inflammation). But, when the body fights continuously (chronic inflammation), it leads to severe health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.
Stress and Chronic Inflammation
Healthcare workers are one of the most stressed professions in the world. And, research studies have found stress to be one of the major causes of chronic inflammation and, consequently, chronic health conditions.
When stressed, the body releases adrenaline (the hormone associated with the flight or fight response) and the stress hormone, cortisol, to enable a response to the cause of the stress. The problem with this is that cortisol numbs the immune system from functioning temporarily, thereby allowing invaders such as microorganisms to infect the body. This is why you’ll sometimes feel unwell or come down with a cold when stressed.
Now, when the body is constantly undergoing stress and its immune system is getting turned on and off, it leads to increasing infection. And, as the body continually fights to defend itself, inflammation becomes chronic and causes severe health conditions.
How Can You Tell if You're Stressed Out?
If you’re a healthcare worker and think you may be suffering from chronic inflammation due to stress, here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for:
Muscle aches and pains
An increased or decreased appetite
These are just a few of the signs and symptoms associated with stress. If you’re experiencing any of these, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional. They can provide you with the support and resources you need to manage your stress and reduce inflammation.
How Inflammation Can Affect Your Healthcare Facility and Business
When you or your healthcare workers have chronic inflammation, it impacts your overall health, which negatively affects the smooth running of your health facility. Here are some of the effects of inflammation.
As previously described, chronic inflammation leads to poor health. Even before the inflammation results in a severe health condition, its symptoms show up such as joint pain, fever, and headaches, making it difficult to serve your patients better.
Inability to Work Effectively
As inflammation causes chronic health conditions that require ongoing treatment, healthcare workers will be unable to work effectively. Imagine you’re experiencing severe joint pains due to stress-induced inflammation. It certainly makes it challenging to be effective at your job with maximum mobility.
Another consequence of inflammation is low productivity. Healthcare workers would spend less time at work and more time on sick leave. So, there will be a delay in providing good healthcare services to your patients, or you’ll have to hire more workers.
Tips for Healthcare Managers to Implement Stress Management Techniques
If you manage a healthcare facility, it’s important to put in place stress management techniques to help your workers deal with stress and reduce inflammation. Here are some tips:
Encourage breaks - let your workers take short breaks in between their shifts to relieve stress.
Implement a flexible working schedule - this allows workers to better juggle their work and personal life, hence reducing stress.
Encourage positive thinking - create a positive working environment where your workers feel appreciated, supported, and motivated. This boosts their morale, leading to less stress.
Organize regular team-building activities - these help in developing teamwork and bonding, which reduces tension and conflict among employees.
How Do You Reduce Stress-Induced Inflammation?
Of course, as a healthcare worker, you can’t completely remove stress from your life. However, you can manage it such that it doesn’t lead to chronic inflammation. Here are some tips:
Get enough sleep: Most people need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily, although this may differ from person to person.
Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to keep the body fit and also reduces stress levels.
Eat healthy: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help to reduce inflammation. Also, limit your intake of alcohol, sugar, and processed foods.
Manage your stress: As a healthcare worker, you have to find ways to manage your stress. This could involve relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, or even talking to someone about what’s causing you stress.
Inflammation contributes to the development of chronic health conditions, which can affect the smooth running of your health facility. So, preventing inflammation in your body and educating your healthcare workers on how to prevent inflammation are essential. One of the key ways to do this is to reduce stress levels by partnering with an early out collections partner to handle the hassle of managing and following up with the outstanding patient and insurance balances.
At RMK Holdings, we understand the stress you are under. Contact us today to help ease the burden.