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Dealing with stressful work periods.

How to Stay Healthy During Stressful Work Periods

Your team members probably love working in your senior living community, but the job can get trying at times. Whether it’s resident complaints, state inspections or being down a few employees, stressful periods do arise even in the best communities.

During challenging work periods, how can you and your staff members stay healthy, avoid illness and maintain a positive mindset that allows you to serve your residents best?

Set Aside Time for Personal Business

No matter how crazy things get at work, everyone needs some personal time. You and your staff members have errands to run, groceries to buy, bills to pay and trash that won’t take itself out. People with children have even more commitments, and some responsibilities simply cannot be avoided. By allowing time for your team members to attend to their personal business, they can focus on work at the appropriate times.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration happens quickly and can cause all sorts of nasty health problems. From impaired concentration to poor moods to headaches, chills, dizziness and muscle cramping, getting insufficient fluids throughout busy work days can negatively impact your team members’ physical and mental health. Encourage employees to carry water bottles, and consider placing water coolers or full pitchers around the community.

Practice Good Hygiene

Germs are always around, but your team members are more susceptible to catching infections if they are tired and stressed. To help employees avoid getting ill from the latest bug making the rounds, encourage them to wash their hands frequently — and always after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating. In addition, urge team members to keep work areas clean, use plenty of hand sanitizer, and stay home if they’re sick.

Steer Clear of Junk Food

Office break rooms have developed a reputation as diet-busting dens of calorie-laden, junky snacks. It seems nearly every day in an office is an occasion to celebrate — birthdays, farewells, anniversaries and holidays — with unhealthy snacks. Encourage employees to eat a healthy breakfast, and consider providing energy-boosting snacks in the break room. Yogurt, nuts and fruit support health much more effectively than candy and chips.

Lay off Caffeine

Coffee and other caffeinated beverages can provide a quick — albeit short-lived — burst of energy. But the cost of that quick fix can be a caffeine crash and increased fatigue later in the day. If you or your team members do drink coffee, consider providing healthy accompaniments like skim milk, and limit the sugar.

Commit to Moving More

During stressful work periods, you and your staff members may cut out exercise to save time. But the truth is that getting some healthy movement is well worth the small time investment. New research has found that even moderate exercise may be more beneficial than any pill, with major benefits, including stress relief.

Spend Quality Time with Family and Friends

Insufficient social support can contribute to real, serious health problems, research has found, and a daily dose of quality time with family and friends can serve as effective medicine. Encourage your team members to spend time with friends and loved ones, and consider planning family-friendly events at your community that can give staff an opportunity to socialize and simply have some fun.

Take Time to Rest

Many people nowadays have a difficult time turning off their brains — and their phones — and truly resting. Getting enough sleep and downtime is critical for good health, especially during busy times. But employees are least likely to get enough rest when work becomes stressful. Discourage team members from responding to work texts and emails during off hours. Sick employees should be sent home to rest.

Focus on Reducing Stress

In some cases, coping with stressful work periods requires a commitment to stress reduction. Yoga, tai chi, meditation and other popular stress-reduction techniques can lower levels of stress hormones and strengthen immunity, researchers say. One study found that regular yoga participants showed a decrease in inflammation, often blamed for chronic illnesses, including heart disease. Consider adding stress-reducing classes like yoga to your workday and giving team members time off to attend.

By encouraging healthy behaviors and making sure you and your staff members schedule rest, relaxation, personal business and time with loved ones, you take a critical step in keeping everyone on your team healthy during stressful work periods.