• Dealing With Anxiety As A PM Is Perfectly Normal

    Anxiety and worry are normal parts of life; they are both ways our bodies react to danger or when we feel threatened and under pressure. However there is a difference between normal anxiety and anxiety disorders – the former is what we’re discussing today, where your anxiety is less intense than a panic attack and can be eventually reduced with tricks of the trade.

    Every job has its issues, and being a practice manager is no different. But it can be a problem if it becomes unmanageable or overwhelming, so I’m keen to share my thoughts on how it can be curtailed – the last thing you want is for normal anxiety to turn into something bigger.

    But let’s look at the positives. A manageable amount from time to time can be helpful. How? Well, for example, it can motivate you to prepare for a new digital system coming onboard for your staff, or finish a task you’ve been putting off. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which you can relieve the tension and lower those anxiety levels.

    Social Media Cleansing

    When you’re feeling the pressure, there’s no better time to think about taking a social media cleanse. This is especially necessary about online groups where opinions run rampant from hundreds of other practice managers about things you really don’t need to concern yourself with. I can hear some of you questioning whether or not deactivating or simply not using your social accounts is worth it.

    The answer? For me, personally, social media is associated with both the bad and the good. If certain platforms are stressing you out and getting in the way of your life, then a cleanse will do you a world of good. Doing so can help you to reprioritise more personal forms of interaction and will certainly help you relax and de-stress.

    Just ease back into social media when you’re ready. Your cleanse of any online medical practitioner groups and the like will remind you that you run your clinic your way with the right RACGP standards, correct MBS billing and safety to your patients.

    Stay Away From Confrontations

    Ah, yes…don’t we all love difficult patients? The ones who believe they have the ‘right of mind’ to complain ever so loudly at the front desk in front of everyone in plain view – and all you need in that moment is one person to whip out their phone, record the whole thing and post it online for everyone to see.

    Make it clear that if the patient has grievances (especially if they are making a scene) the proper procedures must be taken into account according to your practice management’s guidelines. By any means, don’t let them over-ride you with empty threats and make you feel small.

    If the patient is being reasonable with their complaint, and the confrontation isn’t as big as a hurricane like some make it out to be, hear them out and empathise with them, then follow through with your clinic’s protocols. Patients can absolutely be a trigger for anxiety, and being discreet as well as tactful when dealing with the difficult ones is crucial. Speaking in a slow and lowered voice will also keep you calm, thus lessening your stress levels.

    Once the patient leaves, retreat and take some time out in your office to take some deep breaths. Know that as a practice manager with experience, you’ve done everything you can to keep the situation under control.

    Take A Moment

    The last thing you want to do is try to control the uncontrollable, and there could be a variety of uncontrollable factors in your day-to-day workings at the clinic. So many things in life, in general, are beyond our control – particularly the behaviour of other people. Rather than escalating the stress levels, focus on the things you can control and look for the upside of the situation.

    Other tips I love sharing include going for a walk to capture some fresh air and sunshine, taking a 5-minute meditation break in your office, and keeping hydrated. Having said that, I understand completely that sometimes doing something physical is the last thing you feel like doing when your anxiety levels start to increase. But physical activity is a massive stress reliever – being in the medical industry, we already know that endorphins get released when we feel good, so take advantage of the knowledge!

    Make A List

    According to Psychology Today, lists can create a sense of inner mastery and can help you select and prioritise your workload. Writing lists can help ease that busy, busy mind of yours because we can get our thoughts out of our heads and down on paper – anxious minds don’t work so well, let’s face it.

    If you’re all up to date on your tasks and to-do-list, why not start a gratitude list? It’s easier to focus on all the negatives that are happening around us, so take a few moments to acknowledge all the good stuff. If you’re not up for that, there’s also the task of setting yourself up with a worry list.

    Yes, that’s right! You heard me correctly – a worry list. It’s a way of offloading some of your thoughts and mental busy-ness; the act of putting feelings and thoughts into words and writing them down has a calming effect on our brains. I’ve tried it, and it really works!

    Reaching Out and Selfcare

    First of all, let me say here that it’s okay to have a meltdown. You’re human – just don’t unpack your bag and live there, as the saying goes. The good news is that you can recover from a meltdown and learn the telltale signs so you can prevent it from happening again. Reaching out to a friend or family member is one way of getting rid of the tension following a meltdown too. Seeking out someone to talk to about your concerns or worries, without judgement or bias, works wonders for the soul and is guaranteed to lower anxiety levels.

    And please, please don’t forget your selfcare! I’ve covered its importance previously here (hyperlink here) and provided some tips on how to find time to chillout and rejuvenate. If you can’t take care of yourself to reduce anxiety, you’ll be hard pressed to help others in the same situation.

    I’d love to hear your tips and tricks on how you manage your anxiety levels, and how you encourage others to do the same. Reach out to me here on my blog, or get in touch via one of my social links!

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