July 15, 2019
By Sarah Searles, CDAL
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
New Perspective Senior Living
As senior living operators working in an unprecedented time in our industry, our days are fraught with staffing challenges, occupancy struggles, and the demands of doing more with less, while maintaining quality care and services.
It’s hardly surprising that many of us feel increasing stress in attempting to meet what have become competing priorities. It’s easy to allow our feelings to overwhelm us, hindering our ability to remember why we went into this field.
But the same stress that keeps us up at night can be transformed into action that motivates us to continue moving forward and take our organizations to new heights. To see obstacles as opportunities. And to make us better leaders.
It’s time for a new perspective on stress.
Copious research indicates the dangers of prolonged stress. However, most experts agree that it is not the stressor itself, but how we react to it, that causes us to experience negative emotions and physical side effects. Our perception becomes our reality.
From stress to momentum
What does it take to harness the energy of stress and turn it into forward momentum? There’s no simple solution, but change must start with you.
This first step requires some honest self-evaluation. Ask yourself, “How can I shift my mindset (and my behavior) so that others will see me this way?”
Consciously acknowledging your mindset and how you choose to respond in any given situation not only builds resilience and self-awareness, it ensures that you consistently react to situations with a positive attitude.
Here are a couple challenges I’ve found useful in changing my perceptions.
Challenge 1: Write one or two trigger words or phrases in your calendar each day, to remind you to focus on the way you want to be perceived. Before you get ready to start your day, review them and re-focus your energy.
Re-visit this as often as you need to throughout your day, consciously adjusting your attitude as needed. As with any skill worth having, this takes practice! But the pay-off is immeasurable.
Next, put your “why” into action. Many of us realized long ago that we have a passion for caring for others. However, remembering our “why” is only as good as the action that results from living it each day. Getting consumed by the day-to-day tasks we encounter often overshadows the fact that we chose a profession that is people-driven and people-centered.
Challenge 2: The next time you interact with a team member, a resident, or family member, ask yourself, “What does this person need right now that I can do to best serve them?”
Be present; really listen to what the person is telling you. Tap into your emotional intelligence, and then act. You may find yourself stepping outside of the proverbial box from time to time, but I guarantee that if you act on your emotional instinct, the energy you receive in return will fuel your soul.
Challenge 3: Educate. Make the decision to enhance your expertise and acquire the tools you need to proactively manage situations before they escalate and feel confident in your ability to respond if they do. After all, knowledge is energy just waiting to be applied!
Arm yourself with the education, skills, and support you need to be successful regardless of the circumstance. Attend a conference, take a class, network with peers, or get your certification. I recently earned the Certified Director of Assisted Living designation, and it was a boost to my confidence and energy.
The skills and abilities you need to transform stress into action begin and end with you. But without acknowledging our own perspective on stress, it can only be a barrier. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to habits—so why not make them positive?
And here’s one last challenge: Don’t just try to be the change you wish to see in the world. Instead, change how you perceive the world, and you surely will change it.