This year has seen a worrying level of ‘worried and stressed’ practice managers, with many taking prolonged periods of sick leave and even resigning over the stress associated with the growing demands of their job. Surveys have shown that more than two thirds of practice managers have thought about leaving their jobs recently. BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand has said that ‘practice managers are working harder than ever before,’ and that ‘we are seeing a morale dip to a level that I cannot remember in my 35 years as a GP.’
A pilot study that took place within Wessex LMC earlier this year found that ‘the lack of support and sense of isolation’ within this job role was partly to blame for peaks in stress and dissatisfaction, whilst many practice managers reported that workload increases amongst partners within the practice, ‘due to the complex medical needs of their increasing elderly populations’ caused a knock-on-effect of diminished support. Practice managers also cited the ‘unreasonable demands and aspirations of patients fuelled by the media’ as added pressures on their work and the work of their colleagues.
Spotting stress symptoms can be harder than you think, so take the time to ‘check in’ with yourself frequently and get to know these key signs of stress in yourself and those around you:
- Negative or depressive feelings
- Disappointment in oneself
- More tearful or aggressive
- Feeling lonely or withdrawn socially
- Loss of motivation and confidence
- Poor concentration
- Changes in eating habits
- Increased smoking or drinking
- Shifts in sleep patterns
- Feeling nervous
- Poor timekeeping or increased illness absences
There is of course no one-size-fits-all answer to workplace stress, but being able to spot the signs early is at least part of the solution. Seeing stress coming will help you avoid those kneejerk reactions that so often do more harm than good, whether it’s comfort eating or burying yourself in work in a bid to regain some sense of control. Look after yourself and talk to somebody if you’re feeling the pressure at work. We’re all in this together.
What are your tactics for coping with stress at work? Whether it’s making sure you take the time for a walk at lunch or promising yourself to leave work on time, the Practice Index community would love to know your thoughts.