Ever had a day far more stressful than others?
Probably… we all have!
But when you own a practice you may have more stressful days then you care to; it comes with the territory!
The challenge is to deal with the daily stress that’s part of running a practice, before it gets the better of you.
What are the things causing you stress? Countless events could lead to everyday stress in your practice:
- A key employee calling in sick
- A front desk computer crash
- The upcoming audit
- Unhappy patients
- Problems with cashflow
- Noise from repairs to the building
- An insurance company giving you grief
- Your building put up for sale
There are so many things in practice with “stress causing” potential! And never mind the stress-producing events in your personal life…
Stress Is Not All Bad…
But let’s face it, while a little stress is not all bad, too much of it is bound to take its toll over time. Because unfortunately, constant stress is hard on both the mind and body.
Over time, too many high-stress days can really hurt your health. And what’s worse, you could even become so used to being in this “high state of alert” that you start to feel like it’s normal!
Don’t let this happen to you!
And that’s why you must be prepared for everyday stress when owning a practice, both mentally and strategically!
It’s essential you develop a few useful strategies to help you relieve stress and strengthen your self-soothing abilities.
So when you’re struggling to stay calm and relaxed or want to de-stress, put this to the test:
Remember some degree of stress is part of the package you signed up for!
When you operate with the awareness that there is some degree of stress that comes with owning a practice, you won’t be completely surprised when it hits.
It’s so simple, yet we often forget about it when we’re experiencing stress.
Breathe in for 5 seconds and hold it for 5 seconds. Now exhale for 5 seconds. All breaths should only be slightly larger in volume than a normal, relaxed breath.
Do this for a total of 10 times, focusing only on your breathing and notice how much more relaxed you will feel.
Take time out…
If possible, remove yourself from the stressful situation, even if only for a few minutes. Move to another room, close the door, or ask to be left alone.
Practice the breathing technique discussed above to alter your state and get distance. If you’re upset, take time to calm down.
Often, it only takes a few minutes to gain a new perspective on the situation. Taking time out will prevent you from reacting out of frustration vs. finding a creative solution to the problem.
Learn To Say No…
Sometimes we have a hard time taking a stand or telling others “No.” It’s a phenomenon that’s particularly “rampant” amongst people in the helping professions. And while we mean well, failing to set clear limits, isn’t always helpful; not to the other person nor ourselves. To make things worse, when we don’t say “No” when we know we should, we often feel resentful and wish things would be different.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
- You’re experiencing problems with your billing company. Time and again, you’ve asked for explanations and follow-up, but nothing. Deep down you know it’s time to cut the cord but feel uneasy about the pending confrontation. Stressed out due to low cash flow and hounded by regrets, you finally take steps to find a new billing company.
- While you have a no-show, you’re working on your charts. Unfortunately, your staff keeps interrupting you, so much so that you can’t get anything done. But instead of telling them to stop interrupting you, you look up from your desk with a resentful stare in your eyes. Why not put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door instead?
If you learn to say “No” to the things that you don’t want to do, don’t have the time to do, or don’t fit your needs, your life will be much better for it. And, like so many other things in life, saying “No” also gets easier with practice!
Take a day off…
Everyone needs a break once in a while. And while it may not always be feasible to get away for a full day, schedule in half a day, or stop work early for the day.
Allow yourself time to recharge. And when you’re away from the office, don’t just sit around worrying or brooding, but do something that brings you joy and relaxes you. Take your mind off of things and have some fun. Lose yourself in activities that you enjoy.
Enjoy the outdoors to recharge your batteries. A little time in the park can work wonders. Find a relaxing spot with pleasant scenery. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and keep your mind off your challenges.
Don’t let the everyday stress of owning a practice get you down. The key to success is actively doing something about it, rather than complaining about it.
Use the above strategies to minimize pressure and anxiety when stress hits; take control of the situation and yourself.
Learning to deal effectively with the everyday stress of owning a practice will help you enjoy greater success and satisfaction from your independent practice.
Tell us what you think and leave your comment below!
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”