News: Caregivers learn to cope with stress
Story by Lance Cpl. David Hersey
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Although a hospital offers medical aid to those in need, sometimes the personnel who help others need some assistance of their own.
The occupational demands of a medical professional require the ability to cope with and thrive in a stressful environment. To better equip its personnel to handle stress, the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa hosted its caregiver occupational stress control fair May 23 at the hospital on Camp Foster.
The fair was an opportunity for the hospital staff to relax and learn how to manage stress in a positive way, according to Capt. Pius A. Aiyelawo, the commanding officer of USNH Okinawa.
“Stress is a common part of everyday life and at times can even serve to be an excellent motivator to get the job done,” said Aiyelawo. “It only becomes a problem when it becomes unmanageable. There is going to be some element of stress in whatever you do. What is important is having the ability to develop a coping mechanism to manage that stress.”
Due to the fast-paced environment, stress can build quickly for hospital personnel, and they can forget how much it affects them, according to Lt. Megan E. Soldano, a staff member with the outpatient mental health section of USNH Okinawa.
“Too often we spend our days giving, and we don’t take a second to take a step back and remember that we need to take care of ourselves as well,” said Soldano.
The normal amount of stress for the hospital personnel has increased with the transition from Camp Lester to Camp Foster, according to Lt. Jason M. Duff, a manager of the caregiver program and a clinical psychologist with the outpatient mental health section.
“Our staff has been working really hard and performing exceptionally well,” said Duff. “They’ve been working nonstop, and the idea was to give them a break throughout the day and let them know that we care about them. It reminds them they need to take care of themselves and not just their patients.”
In addition to informational pamphlets being distributed, there were also stress-relieving activities like hand massages, yoga lessons and games available for the attendees.
As the fair came to an end, the personnel returned to their work relaxed, refreshed and ready to face the day with renewed vigor, according to Duff.
“I’m definitely hoping we can do this again in a few months,” said Duff. “This was a complete success, and I’m glad that everyone could have such a great time.”