15 Effective Ways to Manage Stress in Healthcare Administration Jobs
Written By: Caitlin Goodwin DNP, CNM, RN
You’ve realized that working in healthcare administration is your absolute dream job. While it sounds perfect, you may be wondering, “is healthcare administration stressful?” Healthcare administrators have a number of responsibilities in their executive role and quickly pivot from one problem to the next. However, with a portfolio of polished skills and experience, you will quickly learn how to manage stress in healthcare administration jobs. By combining healthcare experience with these proven tricks, you will improve your work-life balance in no time. Keep reading in order to discover the 15 effective ways to manage stress in healthcare administration jobs.
6 Reasons Why Healthcare Administration Jobs Can Be Stressful?
Stress is a physical and emotional response to challenging situations. Stress is what fuels the fight or flight response that historically kept us alive. While stress is often a helpful physiologic response, too much of it can be harmful.
1. You are always on your toes.
One of the roles of the healthcare administrator is executive problem-solver. Most staff will rely on you to make challenging decisions. Unfortunately, some of these choices may be weighty and affect critical situations like lives or finances. For many healthcare administrators, this will cause significant job stress.
2. Manage significant issues.
Some days you are putting out fires, and it feels like you are jumping from one catastrophe to the next. There is a lot of stress in healthcare administration jobs. Luckily, the importance of your job makes it feel worthwhile.
3. Take financial responsibility.
You will be responsible for maintaining a financial balance. Walking a shoestring budget while yielding ideal patient outcomes is not for the faint of heart.
4. You are keeping irregular hours.
One of the prime causes of stress in healthcare administration jobs is the irregular hours you will keep. Unfortunately, it may feel like you are always on call with the responsibilities of your job and the 24/7 lifestyle of healthcare.
5. You are responsible for upholding regulations.
The sheer number of government and accreditation regulations can be overwhelming. Beyond that, they are regularly changed to keep up with the changing research. Keeping track of them is a task on its own. However, administrators are often responsible for ensuring that these laws and regulations are being followed.
6. Manage personnel problems.
In many cases, you may carry staff job satisfaction and turnover on your shoulders, as well. Personnel problems constitute a significant source of healthcare administration job stress. Unfortunately, few managers are trained in how to manage staff.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE STRESS IN HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION JOBS?
(Learn about the 15 Effective Ways to manage stress in Healthcare Administration Jobs.)
The well-being of health care administrators is critical to maintaining health care services. Is healthcare administration stressful? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that you are destined to have a poor work-life balance. By both anticipating and managing the stress associated with a high-pressure health care environment, you and your team will maximize job satisfaction. Ensuring positive mental health of you and your team will result in the best possible outcomes.
Healthcare administration job stress often affects your ability to sleep. However, the relationship between stress and sleep is more complex than it seems to be. While too much stress impacts your ability to sleep, too little sleep can also increase your stress levels. Ways to improve sleep hygiene include:
◦ Eat a healthy diet full of antioxidants
◦ Exercise for 30 minutes per day
◦ Stop caffeine intake six hours before bed
◦ Go to bed and get up at the same time each morning
◦ Keep screens out of the bedroom including televisions, computers, and phones
◦ Avoid alcohol and large meals before bedtime.
2. Personnel training.
Unfortunately, most in healthcare administration have little experience or training in personnel management. Luckily, personnel management training can be tailored to both the organization and specific proficiencies. Personnel management training includes interpersonal communication, leadership training, and human resource guidance. Following this beneficial training, you may feel more prepared to motivate and inspire confidence in employees. Increased proficiency in an area that many healthcare administrators lack will decrease job stress and increase your skillfulness. Those with a master in healthcare administration
(MHA) degree may have a stronger background in this type of focus, as well.
3. Delegate without piling on.
If you shoulder all of the work, you will not only fail, but you will burn out and quit because of the added stress in healthcare administration jobs. This is why it is key to learn how to delegate instead of being buried in work. True leaders empower others to succeed in their goals. Delegation is an art because you must evaluate your team’s skills to hand over the tasks that will allow them to thrive. There are a number of ways that healthcare administrators can delegate successfully
◦ Select the work tasks that you are willing and able to offload.
◦ Find the right employee with the skills and autonomy to take this on.
◦ Ensure that they have the time and ability to complete the task by the deadline.
◦ Describe the task in detail and provide any relevant resources.
◦ Follow-up regularly to ensure they are doing well.
◦ Celebrate a successful outcome!
While working in healthcare administration feels like you are persistently tethered to a phone, it is important to take meaningful vacations where you are able to give someone else the responsibility for those calls. Sometimes the stress of constantly being on-call can cause additional tension to you even when you are not at work. Make clear personal time and rest a priority. Unwinding and refueling can be done by setting aside your team to laugh or exercise and let your team know that you are unavailable. Leaders define the boundaries and set the culture of the work environment. If you want you and your team to have an excellent work-life balance, you must model it and make it happen. Leaders set strong boundaries and honor those for their colleagues as well.
5. Learn how to address financial responsibility.
Financial concerns can frustrate you and affect your department’s bottom line. The stress that comes along with the financial responsibility in healthcare administration jobs can seem overwhelming. However, the financial health of any organization is crucial to its survival. Financial management accounts for a major portion of administrative responsibilities. Healthcare administrators should be familiar with reimbursement policies and billing cycles. They may oversee accounts payable, assist with payroll, create or approve department budgets, and oversee financial audits. This role may vary depending on your health organization. However, creating a financial plan to ensure your area’s financial integrity is crucial to decrease job-related stress.
6. Be the kind of boss you would want.
When you were supporting staff, you knew exactly the traits you admire and detest in a supervisor. Make sure to be the kind of boss that you wish that you had. Healthcare administrators develop trust, encourage growth, and provide actual support for the employee’s work and well-being. Regardless of your personality type, your leadership skills are the most important aspect of being an administrator. Important traits include:
◦ Support your team’s career goals
◦ Assisting the team with challenging situations
◦ Giving credit to your team when the credit is due instead of taking it yourself
For many, meditation is one of the best ways to dissipate healthcare administration job stress. Studies show that meditation
improves work-life balance, relaxation, and self-control. Meditation can be complicated to relax your body and improve your sleep physically, or it can be simple. Try to create or find an environment that will support your meditation practice. There are many apps for smartphones that offer guided meditation. Other possibilities include:
◦ Scan your body and be alert for physical sensations
◦ Sit quietly and pay attention to your breathing
◦ Give full and quiet attention to your current emotions
◦ Calm your mind and quiet your inner critic
◦ Practice forgiveness
8. Stretch at your desk.
Make sure to take mental and physical breaks while you work. If you cannot get away from your desk, take three minutes to stretch (while seated). Not only will this prevent discomfort and back pain, but it will also help you to relax. Start with a few simple stretches.
◦ Neck stretch: Sit with your back straight and both feet flat on the floor. Take several breaths in and out. Roll your head to one side, then forward, chin to chest, and circle to the other side. Repeat this movement slowly.
◦ Upper back stretch: Sit upright with your hands clasped together in front of your body parallel to your shoulders. Round your upper back and press your back toward the wall behind you as you simultaneously reach forward. Hold 30 seconds.
◦ Lower back stretch: While in the seated position, cross one leg over the other leg. Take the arm opposite the crossed leg and place it outside of your knee. Next, twist your shoulders in that direction and feel a stretch through your spine. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Breathe deeply throughout the stretch.
9. Mindful breathing.
Breathing is essential to life and health. However, it also has the added benefits of quieting your mind and relaxing your body. Mindful breath can help you to manage stress and anxiety associated with healthcare administration jobs. If you are not sure where to start, try 4-7-8 breathing. This method of breath regulation is helpful to many and can be done anywhere. Perform the following:
◦ Find a quiet place (or at least a place where you can ignore distractions)
◦ Sit up straight
◦ Breathe in through your nose for four seconds
◦ Hold your breath for seven seconds
◦ Exhale for eight seconds, making a ‘woosh’ sound
◦ Repeat the cycle at least three times for four total breaths
10. Stay Grounded with Massage.
While the stress in healthcare administration jobs can feel all-consuming, regular massage can improve your well-being tremendously. When we are not grounded, we are more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed. By grounding yourself physically with massage, you can anchor your anxious mind. Regular massage can help you to manage your accumulated stress and boost your endorphins (or feel-good hormones). According to a meta-analysis of 37 studies
, massage decreases anxiety and depression. Massage can decrease nearly all stress-related symptoms
. Not only does it reduce joint and muscle pain, shoulder tension, fatigue, headaches, and insomnia, but it boosts energy levels. If you suffer from high blood pressure
or chronic disease
, it may improve both- but you should always get clearance from a healthcare provider.
11. Go for a walk.
Any kind of exercise is a fantastic way to calm down. However, walking is perfect because it lets you get away from the situation and releases endorphins to make you feel better. Walking can ease tension and promote relaxation by decreasing stress hormones and relaxing tense muscles. A few laps around the health facility or hospital, and you will feel better in no time. If you are able to take a thirty-minute walk in nature
or green space, there are even more benefits. Not only can it improve chronic disease and assist with weight loss, but it can also feel easier than a walk on a treadmill.
12. Engage in continued education.
Feeling like you are not prepared to do the job that you were hired for can make you feel like an imposter. While the goal is to decrease healthcare administration job stress, sometimes you can use the pressure to help you to succeed. When stress motivates you to achieve a short-term goal, it can be helpful. Continuing education can be an excellent outlet for any stress while preparing future leaders to be better. Additional training can add skills and resources to your toolbox. Continuing education helps you learn how to solve problems using advice from others who have experienced the same.
13. Seek support.
For some, this may mean relying on a partner to help you cook or clean, while for others, this may mean finding a trusted therapist. In some cases, it’s utilizing funds to get an executive assistant or hiring enough personnel to keep your team safe and efficient. Yes, the stress in healthcare administration jobs can increase to a boiling point if left unchecked, but finding support will alleviate that pressure. While it’s important to be a strong leader, it’s okay to know when and how to ask for help.
14. Gain confidence in public speaking.
Preparation is key. Write down your thoughts, read them in front of your family (or even pets), and make sure you are saying something worthwhile. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to do it in front of a mirror. While some people are naturally less anxious about public speaking, the best speakers are talented by way of practice. Fake it until you make it- if you are lacking conviction, be sure to act confident until you truly are. Speak slower than you think you need to and take pauses.
15. Progressive relaxation.
One of the worst characteristics of stress in healthcare administration jobs is physical discomfort. If you are looking for a way to physically relax your body and improve your sleep, do progressive relaxation
. Make sure to allow some time, about ten minutes, to complete this. Take your time and move slowly while taking slow breaths in between:
◦ Sit in a quiet position, preferably lying down if you are able.
◦ Relax in a comfortable position in a quiet place.
◦ Breath slowly and deeply, making sure to take your time exhaling.
◦ Close your eyes.
◦ Clench each muscle group before relaxing them.
◦ Starting at the top of your head, imagine your scalp beginning to relax.
◦ Shift your awareness to your forehead and feel it becoming loose.
◦ Move on to the entire area around the eyes.
◦ Relax the large muscles of the jaw. Move to the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and roof of the mouth.
◦ Bring your awareness to the entire head (including the face), relaxing the whole area.
◦ Flow the relaxation down to your neck and imagine these muscles growing looser and lengthening.
◦ Drop the shoulders and let them relax. Focus all of your stressors falling away from your shoulder
◦ Relax your chest and picture the whole area softening. Breathe down, focusing on your heart.
◦ Relax your abdomen and breathe deeper, down into your belly.
◦ Now focus on the back, starting at the top of the spine. Relax slowly down the spine, one vertebra at a time.
◦ Next, relax the hips, then the pelvis.
◦ Release the large muscles of the buttocks.
◦ Next, focus on the upper legs, moving down to the knees, the lower parts of the legs, and down to the feet.
◦ Focus on any remaining tension, and picture it draining out of your body.
◦ Gently stretch, and remain still for another moment.
My Final Thoughts
Short-term stress can be helpful to motivate you to complete urgent tasks. However, chronic stress has long-term negative effects. This article is aimed to answer the question, how to manage stress in healthcare administration jobs? Mixing your personal skills with these tips can decrease job-related pressure and improve the balance in your life. By combining these 15 effective ways to manage stress in healthcare administration jobs, you will enhance your career satisfaction. The most important task when trying to manage stress is to slow down and perform self-care. Regardless of what your busy day looks like, breathe and prepare yourself to face your worries head-on.
Caitlin Goodwin DNP, CNM, RN
Caitlin Goodwin is a Certified Nurse-Midwife who has been a nurse for 12 years, primarily in women’s health. She is passionate about caring for children with developmental disabilities, as her son has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is currently working as a freelance writer and consultant and is passionate about advocating for her patients, students, and profession.