Continuing Education And Stress In The Psychologist Profession

With a practice to run, research to do and continuing education credits to gain, today's psychologists can get as stressed out as the patients they are working to help.

Having so much on their plates, what can today's leaders in mental health do to keep everything personally and professionally running smoothly and find that feeling of Zen?

A recent American Psychological Association survey revealed that many psychologists feel stressed, with work/life balance being the biggest stress factor. The necessity of continuing education is an additional burden upon continual professional improvement. With Smartphones and Wifi access increasingly available, being "out of the office" is a thing of the past. Being constantly available is good in case of emergency, but can leave little down time to decompress and find your happy place.

Research has shown that for some psychologists and others - people who had been labeled "workaholics" - working on a day off or vacation can actually reduce their stress level because they are not freaking out about work piling up and what awaits them when they return to their desk.

Being young and carefree is quickly becoming a misnomer for psychologists just starting their practice, as well as other members of the Millennial generation. While not even having kids of their own yet, more and more members of this generation say that they struggle with life and family balance. Many of them are balancing work and the care of an aging parent.

The 2009 APA Colleague Assistance and Wellness Survey examined stress factors in the lives of 650 practicing psychologists. Getting too engrossed in trying to help patients and possibly seeing too many patients to keep the practice afloat were seen as top stress detriments to psychologists.

Their work/life balance is the biggest thing impacting their professional career, the survey revealed, and that topped respondents' list of worries.

But on the flip side, nearly every respondent - 96 percent of survey takers - said that having a work/life balance is the biggest stress reliever of them.

Psychology experts offer these tips for keeping stress at an arm's length:

Know what works for you - There is no one-size fits-all solution for dealing with stress, according to Ellen Ernst Kossek, co-author of "CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age."

Use family/work policies to your advantage - If your workplace offers flex time or other ways to help families, don't be afraid to use it if it works for you. Being able to come in later or leave earlier to handle family responsibilities can help take some stress off of you. Continuing education can be completed online or during downtime to help relieve time constraints.

Getting help from the top - Talking to your manager and getting help from him or her can also help relieve stress. Your boss understanding the family situations you have to handle and being willing to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement can make a big difference in family/work balance.

Putting focus on yourself - Getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising can help keep stress at bay. Also, by working with clients and co-workers, you may be able to work out better solutions to issues and reduce stress factors.