How Lab Personnel Can Cope with Stress

Tired lab personnel resting head on laptop in office

Working in a lab is not always as laid-back as TV shows or movies make it seem. As a lab employee, here’s how you can better cope in this high-stress environment.

Whether you are a medical technologist or a full-time researcher, working in a laboratory can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. Laboratory employees are often exposed to high-stress environments, not to mention the work-related risks that they deal with every day. Moreover, compared to other workplace environments, working in a laboratory doesn’t often provide opportunities for socialization.

High stress levels can burn out even the most seasoned employees. So if you are working in a laboratory, here are some pointers to help you cope with the demands of your job:

1. Look out for the signs of burnout

To prevent a full-blown burnout, you have to recognize the early warning signs before they get worse:

  • Difficulty with simple tasks, such as looking for an autoclave for sale or managing routine activities
  • Easy irritability
  • Sadness, loneliness, guilt, shame
  • A tendency to blame others
  • Feeling indifferent or apathetic
  • Trouble sleeping, nightmares
  • Constant worrying or anxiety
  • Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc.

When you start noticing signs of high stress levels, it’s time to take a step back and let yourself breathe. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk of the effects of long-term stress, such as mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, nutritional problems, and gastrointestinal issues, among others.

2. Recognize your stressors

What things often cause stress for you in the workplace? Is it impending deadlines? Overbearing co-workers? Demanding tasks? It is vital to recognize the causes of your stress so that you can find ways to avoid them. For example, if you find yourself highly stressed when deadlines are approaching, then you might need to rework your schedule. If it’s your co-workers or supervisors, seek ways to communicate to minimize disagreements or misunderstandings.

While it’s not always possible to avoid stressors in the workplace, finding ways to minimize them is a great place to start when you’re trying to manage your stress.

3. Don’t skip your breaks

It is a common habit for lab workers to skip breaks so that they can keep working. However, not giving yourself enough time to eat or rest throughout the day can do more harm than good. You might be working through your backlogs or speeding through the research, but you might not be doing your best because you’re hungry and tired. Also, you are more prone to making mistakes if your body is stressed due to hunger and fatigue.

Don’t skip your breaks unless you need to. Take your regular lunch breaks to eat, rest, and socialize with others.

4. Set your boundaries

If you are a researcher, the laboratory setting is often a highly competitive environment. As a result, you might feel the need to outperform your colleagues and give your work everything you’ve got.

Working hard is necessary to achieve your goals, yes, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your physical and mental well-being. Set your boundaries and learn how to say ‘no’ to work that you cannot handle at the moment. It might be tempting to accept every little task thrown at you to look good, but being overloaded with work can lead to underperformance or critical mistakes that derail your research.

5. Increase efficiency

The more efficient you are, the better you can finish your work and leave the lab on time. Remember that the quality of your work is not directly related to the amount of time you spend on it. Hence, being more efficient at what you do is essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

To increase your efficiency, here are some tips that can help:

  • Limit distractions, avoid using personal devices while working
  • Designate a particular time to answer emails, make calls, etc.
  • Prioritize the most difficult and time-consuming tasks
  • Stay organized, keep your workplace free from clutter
  • Maintain a detailed documentation log to avoid confusion later on
  • Determine inefficient processes and find ways to address them
  • Make use of automated technology

6. Take care of your health

Drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat healthy balanced meals. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and recreational drug use. Lastly, get a good amount of exercise, especially if your physical activity is limited in the lab.

It is impossible to eliminate stress in a competitive, high-stress environment such as a laboratory. However, this doesn’t mean you have to learn to live with it. If you want to utilize your full potential and translate that into excellent performance, then you have to put yourself first. Use these strategies to keep your stress levels at bay, and find more ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Four Practices that Will Help You Recognize Sources of Stress in Your Life

We may not notice stress in our lives until its effects become pronounced. These practices will alert you to the danger and its sources.

Stress kills us in so many ways

When you lead a busy life, the combination of tasks at work and around the house, social commitments, and distractions on our devices can increase your exposure to elevated levels of stress. By the time you realize that you’re dealing with chronic stress, you may already need to see a GI doctor or consult with a therapist to relax and cope with anxiety. Early recognition of stress and its possible sources, also called as stressors, in your life is a vital boost to any successful stress management plan. The following practices will help you do that.

Keep a journal

A journal is a valuable tool for productivity and continued learning. Even if you keep it simple-a bullet journal or assorted to-do lists, for instance-,the information you jot down can provide considerable insight into the everyday factors, patterns, and occasional changes that could bring stress into your life. You can take things further by exploring your thoughts and feelings in a more introspective style of writing. This will help you find clarity and deeper insights into what’s currently working for you and which things might not be turning out so well.

Become a reader of good fiction

Many people read self-help books as an aid to personal development, but the occasional dose of fiction allows you to develop reading as a skill. If you start to explore a variety of well-written works of fiction, you can better develop your powers of empathy and observation. Not only does this practice give the pleasure of stimulating your imagination and experiencing a good story, but it also helps you become more aware of what’s happening in life, improves the quality and restfulness of sleep, and actively works to lower your stress levels (even if you aren’t yet aware that you’re dealing with stress).

Engage in mindfulness practice

Similar to the benefits of reading, several mindfulness practices can offer a dual boost-increasing your awareness of possible stressors while helping to offset or balance their effects.

When we think of mindfulness, meditation is often the first thing that comes to mind. Other options include deliberately slowing down and avoiding multitasking to focus on the present; removing devices such as your phone or computer for some time each day; going out for a walk in green spaces to reconnect with nature; and moving your body regularly through a commitment to exercise, such as yoga.

Explore another perspective

Developing an increased sense of awareness doesn’t have to come entirely from your perceptions. It’s essential to explore other people’s perspectives and thereby gain feedback into what’s happening in your life, which you might never acquire on your own. Talk to the people you love and trust, who are in a position to observe you regularly; family, close friends, and longtime colleagues can offer valuable insights as to what might be changing or disrupting your life. While everyone might have a different opinion, and they can be wrong or right on various points, what matters is you maintain frequent conversations with your support network, so you can piece together a better overview of the big picture.

By practicing these techniques, you’ll become more closely attuned to what’s happening in your life each day. This will alert you to stressors and help you better manage the unwanted effects of stress before things get out of hand.

Effective Ways to Relax and Recharge from Stress

Choosing to focus on your well-being may be difficult because of the never-ending demands of today’s society. Hustle culture seems to be the norm nowadays, where people often find ways to push themselves to the limit. Aside from this, financial demands are also increasing because of the expensive prices of goods and other necessities.

Stressful lady at workplace
Stress has become a common phenomenon everywhere

As a result, people try to put in more overtime at work. Some look for other sources of income to survive. Indeed, it’s natural if you feel the need to work harder to ensure that you make enough money to finance your needs. It’s also an effective way to help you achieve your goals and improve your life. However, you should never forget the importance of taking care of yourself, especially your health.

How to Practice Self-Care

Ensuring that your physical and mental health is in the perfect state provides a lot of benefits for your mind and body. It also allows you to enjoy your life more and avoid experiencing too many negative emotions. You must pay more attention to your physical and mental health to give yourself a chance to recharge. Here are some easy ways that can help you practice self-care:

  • Fix your schedule-Revisit your daily schedule and see if there are some items that you can cross out from your to-do list. Make sure that you manage your time wisely and that your schedule won’t make you too exhausted. Include some time for quick breaks so that you don’t feel overworked throughout the day.
  • Find time to perform physical activities-Find time to exercise so that you develop more physical strength. Go for a run every morning or enroll in a yoga class. Being physically fit and active helps strengthen your immune system. As a result, you will become more productive, and you can handle your obligations without any issue.
  • Schedule a “no work” day-Have a fixed schedule where you don’t have to think about work or other things that make you feel stressed or exhausted. Visit a massage spa in Pleasant Grove or enjoy a quiet time reading books at home. Do something that will help take your mind off things that disrupts your peace of mind.
  • Spend more time with your loved ones-Have fun or spend some time with your family and friends. Socializing can help you experience fun activities. It can also give you a chance to keep in touch with your support system.
  • De-clutter at home-Find time to get rid of unnecessary stuff at home. Make sure that your home is clean and organized so that you won’t feel distracted all the time. Your home should be a place where you enjoy doing things that lift your spirits rather than add to your negative emotions.

Paying attention to your overall welfare should be your priority. Keep in mind that if you are physically or mentally unhealthy, you won’t be able to accomplish tasks effectively. You will also find it more difficult to reach your goals because your body may shut down from exhaustion. To prevent this scenario, always find time to practice self-care. Don’t hesitate to call in sick or have a quick vacation to take a break from the stress and pressure around you. Remember, it’s better to prevent yourself from burning out so that you can continue doing things you need to do. It also helps you find time to pursue your passion or do something you love from time to time.