In the demanding and dynamic healthcare environment, Medical Services Professionals (MSPs) face unique stressors that can challenge their well-being and job satisfaction. The TMG 2024 MSP Well-Being Survey offers insightful data on how MSPs are managing stress, revealing a variety of strategies employed to maintain balance and well-being. Here’s a deeper look at each strategy, how it supports MSPs in their daily lives, and how you might implement it into your life.

Family and Friends: Strengthening Social Bonds

A significant 69% of MSPs turn to family and friends to manage stress, making it the most popular strategy. The support system provided by loved ones can offer emotional comfort, practical advice, and a sense of belonging that are crucial during stressful times. Regular engagement with family and friends helps MSPs feel grounded and reminded of life outside of work.
How to Implement: Schedule regular catch-ups or activities with family and friends. Whether it’s a weekly dinner, a movie night, or a simple phone call, making these interactions a regular part of your schedule can ensure you maintain strong social support, which is essential for emotional resilience.

Music: Harnessing the Power of Sound

Music, utilized by 63% of respondents, serves as a powerful therapeutic tool that can elevate mood, reduce anxiety, and trigger positive associations. Whether listening to soothing classical melodies or energizing rock, music provides a mental escape from the pressures of work, helping MSPs to recharge and regain focus.
How to Implement: Create personalized playlists for different moods or tasks. For instance, compile a calming playlist for unwinding after work, an uplifting playlist for morning routines, or a focused playlist for commuting. Integrating music into daily routines can act as a stress buffer and enhance mood.

Physical Activity: Making Movement a Habit

Engaging in physical activity is a strategy embraced by 57% of MSPs. Exercise releases endorphins, known as ‘feel-good’ hormones, which act as natural stress relievers. Regular movement, whether it’s walking, yoga, or a cycling session, helps in maintaining physical well-being and mental clarity, contributing to better stress management.
How to Implement: Incorporate short bursts of activity into your day. This could be a 10-minute yoga session during a break or a walk around the block. For MSPs with unpredictable schedules, even brief periods of movement can accumulate to produce significant benefits.

Leisure Activities: Prioritizing Personal Interests

Partaking in leisure activities, which 58% of MSPs do, includes a broad range of interests from gardening and cooking to gaming and crafting. These activities not only distract from daily stressors but also promote a sense of accomplishment and joy, essential for emotional resilience.
How to Implement: Dedicate specific times each week for hobbies. Whether it’s setting aside Sunday afternoons for painting or an hour each evening for gaming, having designated leisure times can help ensure you regularly engage in these rejuvenating activities without feeling rushed or guilty.

Nature: Connecting with the Outdoors

About 47% of MSPs find solace in nature, which offers a tranquil environment to decompress and reflect. Engaging with nature, whether through hiking, bird-watching, or spending time in a park, can significantly reduce stress levels and improve mental health.
How to Implement: Plan regular outdoor excursions, such as weekend hikes or visits to local parks. Even during busier periods, a short time in a natural setting can help clear your mind and reduce stress. If you’re limited by location or time, consider creating a green space at home with plants and flowers to bring nature closer to you.

Pets: Leveraging Unconditional Support

Pets provide comfort and companionship for 45% of MSPs. The presence of a pet can reduce stress, increase physical activity through walks and play, and provide unconditional love, which can be particularly comforting after a challenging day at work.
How to Implement: Engage actively with your pet each day. Scheduled playtime or walks can not only benefit your pet but also provide you with structured breaks from work-related stress. If you don’t have pets, volunteering at an animal shelter can offer similar benefits.

Reading and Writing: Expanding Perspectives and Expressing Thoughts

Engaging in reading and writing is a stress management tool for 43% of MSPs. Reading allows MSPs to lose themselves in different worlds and perspectives, while writing provides a means to express thoughts and emotions, serving as a therapeutic outlet.
How to Implement: Set a reading goal or start a journal. For reading, perhaps aim to read a book per month or join a book club for motivation. For writing, keeping a daily or weekly journal can help you process your thoughts and emotions, serving as a reflective and cathartic practice.

Mindfulness: Practicing Purposeful Awareness

Mindfulness, practiced by 27% of MSPs, involves being present and fully engaged with the current moment. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and mindful walking can help reduce stress, enhance focus, and improve overall emotional regulation.
How to Implement: Start with a five-minute daily meditation using apps like Headspace or Calm. These can guide you through the basics of mindfulness and help integrate this practice into your daily routine, improving your ability to manage stress and remain present.

Digital Break: Disconnecting to Reconnect

Taking a digital break, which 23% of MSPs practice, involves stepping away from all forms of digital communication to reduce information overload and regain personal space. This can help decrease feelings of being overwhelmed and increase real-world interactions that are more fulfilling.
How to Implement: Implement “no-screen” times each day, especially during meals and before bed. Consider digital detox weekends where you limit checking emails or social media to once a day or disconnect completely for a more extended period to reset your focus and reduce cognitive overload.

Learning New Skills: Cultivating Growth

Sixteen percent of MSPs manage stress by learning new skills, which not only diverts the mind from daily stressors but also contributes to personal and professional growth, enhancing self-efficacy and career satisfaction.
How to Implement: Identify areas of interest or skills that could enhance your career or personal life, and enroll in related courses or workshops. This could be anything from a professional development course to cooking classes, which can provide a sense of achievement and novelty.

Counseling: Seeking Professional Support

Therapy or counseling, utilized by 14% of MSPs, provides professional support to navigate complex emotional landscapes. Engaging with a therapist can help address underlying stressors, develop coping strategies, and foster better mental health.
How to Implement: If you’re considering therapy, start by researching options through your employee assistance program or local mental health services. Scheduling regular sessions, even online, can provide you with valuable tools to cope with stress and improve your mental health.

By embracing these diverse and effective stress management strategies, MSPs can significantly enhance their well-being and ensure continued excellence in their roles. Each strategy offers a unique avenue to mitigate stress and promote balance, catering to different needs and preferences. As you integrate these practices into your daily routine, remember that the journey to better stress management is personal and progressive. It requires consistent effort and adaptation to find what truly works for you. Let’s prioritize our mental health with the same diligence we devote to our professional responsibilities, fostering a healthier, more resilient self, and by extension, a more robust healthcare environment.