Conquer Your Stress With The SHIELD Technique
Let’s face it- applying to become a PA can be stressful. From writing your personal narrative, researching schools, getting your application materials together, and finding time to gather patient contact experience, you’ll have suffered through enough stress before you even step foot into the interview room.
Dealing with stress during the application period is manageable because you’re not put on the spot like you are during your interview. Yes, the amount of preparation needed can be overwhelming, but the stress can be managed on your own time and in your own way (yoga, running, chardonnay, etc.). On interview day, the stress you feel has to be dealt with at that very moment, so it makes coping with the stress all the more difficult.
If you have a hard time managing stress, try using the SHIELD technique! It can help you conquer your anxiety and help you navigate through stressful situations in real time. Simply Stop, Honor, Inhale, Exhale, Listen, Decide, and you’ll find you’ve “blocked” your stress from harming you any further (just like a shield!)
Here’s how you master each step of the SHIELD technique:
Stop:The moment you notice that you’re feeling stressed, take a mental time out. Stop whatever you’re doing or saying for a brief moment and focus solely on your stress.
Honor:Take a moment to actually acknowledge what you’re feeling. Trying to overcome something that’s affecting your mental state without identifying the feelings won’t work. Once you can recognize that your anxiety is being caused by a tangible situation, you can start the process of working through it.
Inhale:It’s time to take control of your breathing. Consciously focusing on your breath is a great way to reduce your heart rate and get you back to a calm state so you can proceed calmly. Take a deep breath and hold it briefly.
Exhale:Let the air out of your lungs slowly and methodically. Picture the air as your pent up stress and anxiety slowly leaving your body. If you need to do this a few times, try to establish a breathing pattern with counts for how long you inhale, hold, and exhale (or even match your breathing up with this GIF.)
Listen:After taking a moment to refocus and breathe, listen to your thoughts and feelings. Try to find what aspect of the situation is making you stressed. Are you feeling claustrophobic because there are too many candidates around you? Is the room too hot, too cold, or uncomfortable for you in any way? Are you worried about things that “could” go wrong during the interview or is something concrete bothering you that can be changed? Is the stress completely external or internal? Isolating the cause of your stress can help you compartmentalize it and move on.
Decide: Now that you’ve isolated the cause of your stress, decide how you’re going to conquer it. If it’s an external problem, can it be remedied by changing something in your environment? If it’s an internal problem, can you shift from an anxious mindset to a confident one? Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself how hard you’ve worked to get here. Help affirm any positive feelings instead of the anxious ones you may be feeling. If all else fails, try smiling- the physical act of doing this may help shift your mindset!