While each person’s employment situation and status is different, most everyone has suffered work-related stress since the start of the pandemic.
“In the past two years, I have had many more conversations with patients regarding their mental health,” says Olivia Garcia, a nurse practitioner in Tryon Medical Partner’s Uptown office. “Some people have had stress and anxiety about returning to the office while others have struggled with being isolated during the pandemic.”
As an organization dedicated to wellness and as an employer, Tryon has a unique perspective on the factors contributing to the mental and physical health of both its patients and team partners.
“It has been difficult for team partners during the pandemic to manage stress and anxiety,” says Deanna Griffin, Tryon’s human resources director who has worked in HR for more than 20 years. “Focusing on what you can control is key to increasing contentment at work, which is something everyone can work on.”
Here are #TeamTryon’s tips for managing work-related anxiety:
1. Learn what EAP stands for, and use it.
EAP stands for “Employee Assistance Program,” a free, confidential mental health benefit offered by many employers. After a needs assessment by an experienced, licensed clinician, EAP can provide a limited number of problem-solving sessions or a referral for ongoing support.
“EAP is a wonderful benefit provided by the employer that can assist with so many different areas, including personal or work-related issues,” Griffin says.
2. Primary care includes physical health and mental health. Take care of both.
Keep up with your annual wellness checks, and tell your clinician if you’re struggling emotionally.
“Many patients think that they need to see a psychiatrist to help manage their mental health,” explains Garcia. “What many people don’t realize is that most primary care providers are able to manage mental health issues without having to make an outside referral.”
Some employers, like Tryon, offer free primary care to their benefits-eligible employees and their children. If you don’t have access to employer-subsidized health coverage at your job, organizations like NC Navigator Consortium can help you find affordable health insurance.
3. If you are having a problem at work, reach out to HR for help.
Venting to coworkers may help you feel better in the short term, but ultimately can lead to resentment toward your employer, miscommunication and hurtful gossip.
“If you are unhappy at work due to a challenging or unhealthy work dynamic, please contact HR so we can work with you to resolve the situation,” says Griffin. “Unfortunately, if we are unaware of the problem, we cannot assist with a solution.”
4. Take your break time and paid time off.
According to a 2019 report by the U.S. Travel Association, Americans failed to use 768 million days of paid time off, and 55 percent of Americans did not use all of their paid vacation time. Unplugging from work is incredibly important. Even if you’re part time and you don’t receive vacation time, take the breaks to which you’re entitled.
“Even if you have a busy work schedule, it is important to take breaks,” says Garcia. “I recommend that patients try to get outside for a short walk during their lunch breaks.”
5. Create healthy boundaries so you can leave work at work.
“As a frontline healthcare worker, I know this is easier said than done, but it’s important to set aside time to do activities that you enjoy,” adds Garcia. “I enjoy spending time with friends and family, exercising and walking my dog.”
If a physical workout doesn’t fit into your schedule, do something immediately after your shift that puts you into “home mode,” like listening to music or a fun podcast.
Tryon Medical Partners believes that everyone deserves to be happy and healthy at work. If you do too, learn more about working at Tryon and check out our available job opportunities.