Recently I’ve been reading about ‘The Flight or Fight response’. I decided to do a bit of reading into it as I’ve found myself in situations at work where I can relate to it. I should note (since I don’t think I have) that I’m quite interested in psychological theories and enjoy reading articles around them, especially OT related ones as I’d eventually like to work in Mental Health. I just feel like I need to get some good experience in the post I have now first and life experience is also a great help. So expect future blogging around this!
At one point or another I’m sure everyone will have experienced the ‘fight or flight response’ and will be able to recognise the symptoms. For example, rising blood pressure, tense muscles, adrenalin, quickening heart beat, sweaty palms and so on. If you want to know a bit more about it since I won’t be going into too much detail since I don’t want to bore y’all, here’s a PDF I found which covers it briefly: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/counselling/documents/podacst-fight-or-flight-response.pdf
I experience this at work every so often and in my personal life therefore felt like it would be useful to gain some insight into why I was experiencing it and what might help to prevent this or deal with it. For example, one day at work I was asked to help out in other areas which I had never or rarely worked in before so was unfamiliar with the way that the ward’s systems worked, the process of referrals, the medical conditions and I didn’t know the staff. My thought process went from thinking positively about what I was doing in my job to thinking ‘oh no, I won’t be able to do it, shit, retreat!’. I went from a being in a calm manner to experiencing panic and that’s when the adrenaline kicked in. My fear triggered the reaction, I felt there was a threat to myself as I could do the wrong thing and something terrible could happen as a result. It’s not unusual for me to get anxious about things, I feel I’m quite an anxious person at times but more often than not I’ll be so anxious about doing the job right that it will prevent me from being able to do the job at all. Procrastination is my worst enemy when it comes to that. As a result of this fear I ended up taking on a referral in a more familiar area (Stroke) which I had worked in a few times so felt more comfortable with. I don’t think I was doing myself any favours by doing this but I automatically choose the option which was more in my comfort zone, as you do. Having read around what can help to tackle the anxiety during the fight or flight response, one strategy that I found useful was learning to break the cycle of anxiety by recognising the symptoms and reminding myself the symptoms aren’t a reason to become more anxious. So relating that to my situation; I started to realise that it’s normal for me to be anxious about seeing a patient in an unfamiliar setting and I will feel out of my comfort zone but I know that it’s not just me that gets as anxious about it and I have the support there if I need it, I just need to go for it. Sometimes I think I put my expectations too high for myself as I think I need to do everything right and in a perfect manner but I’m trying to keep reminding myself that I’m only a junior OT, I’m still learning so all I can do is what I’ve been taught and learn from my mistakes. I’ve got a few weekend shifts coming up where I will have to see patients in other areas so it’ll be interesting to see how I manage with that.
On another note, a wee update: I’m nearly 6 months into my post now. Gosh. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Edinburgh for this long and working in that team. I still feel I’m making slow progress which is good but still a fair bit to go I think. As people say it does take a year to feel comfortable in your role and I am aware MOE is a complex area. In the mean time though I’m enjoying everything I’m learning about and the experiences I’m gaining from working in that area. I should add too I do really enjoy the team I work with at the moment. Today for someone’s birthday we got to play musical chairs (note that I won and got to have percy pig tails as a prize, wew!), sit around and listen to acoustic guitar my colleague brought in and eat cake. Not a bad day!
Anyhow I feel I’ve talked for wayyyy too long so I shall leave it at that. Feel free to message me or leave me a comment about anything including any questions you may have, if you found my blog useful, advice, constructive criticism etc.
Sam : ).