There are high levels of stress and burnout in the dentistry profession, with a huge number of dentists feeling that the stress of their job is beyond their ability to cope. These top 5 self care tips can help manage stress levels:
Talk to someone
Stress isn’t one of those things that will just sort itself out over time, and it’s not something you should try to deal with on your own. Opening up about your stress, whether it’s to a friend, a colleague, or a doctor, will relieve some of the pressure. It will also give you the chance to express just how you’re feeling and hopefully give you a new perspective about what you need to do to deal with the stress.
Talking to someone and asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness — it’s an important step towards tackling the problem and taking steps to manage your stress. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know then there are a number of phone lines or online services where you can talk to someone anonymously.
Working some time into your schedule to exercise can make a big difference to your stress levels. If you’re feeling stressed it can be incredibly hard to motivate yourself to exercise, but working out will boost your serotonin and endorphin levels that trigger a positive feeling. It’ll give your mind and your body a break from your work, and it will help you to focus and be more productive after exercise.
Try going for an early morning run a few times a week, or sign up to a couple of classes at the gym. You don’t have to be looking to make significant changes to your fitness, but give your body a break from work stress.
If you’re after more relaxing exercise, then yoga is often used as a tool for stress management. It incorporates breathing control, meditation and can improve physical posture, and it’s known to minimize stress and improve your productivity. You can find simple yoga videos online that will help you deal with stress.
Take care of your body
While exercising is a good starting point, when you’re constantly busy it’s easy to forget to take care of your body in other ways. To reduce stress long term it’s important to incorporate a few habits into your daily routine that ensure you treat yourself well.
You can start by looking at your diet; add in more fruit, vegetables, and non-processed foods to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients that it needs. You might only catch a few minutes to eat lunch between patients, but make sure it’s something healthy. Fast food might be a quick option, but you need to fuel your body properly to deal with the rest of the day.
Set aside time each day for yourself, it can be as little as fifteen minutes first thing in the morning or later in the evening. Use this time to meditate, fill in a journal, read a book, or just sit outside and take a break.
These are just a few self-love steps you can take to reduce the impact of stress, it’s important to treat yourself well so that you are capable of providing the best possible care to other people.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Some of the things you might take comfort in when you’re stressed out are actually making things worse. Try to cut down on alcohol, smoking, and caffeine to reduce your stress levels.
You might feel like a glass of wine in the evening helps you to unwind, but alcohol is a depressant, and it will actually disrupt your sleep so that you wake up feeling more tired and stressed.
A cup of coffee can give you a much-needed boost first thing but avoid drinking more than a few cups per day and resist the extra cup in the afternoon. Caffeine increases adrenaline and dopamine, which gives you an initial rush but can make you more tired and stressed afterward, plus it increases cortisol (the stress hormone) and inhibits the absorption of adenosine which calms the body. On top of that, it has a negative effect on your sleep, which leaves you less alert and less able to deal with stress.
Set clear boundaries between work and home
When your job involves taking care of other people it can be pretty hard to switch off but maintaining a clear separation between working hours and home time will help you provide a better service to your patients overall.
Whenever possible, switch off from work completely when you leave – don’t check your emails or your phone messages from home. You need a few hours each evening that are work free – try starting a new project or course that’s unrelated to dentistry. Having something else to focus on that is within your control can provide an outlet for your stress.
Don’t forget to take time off every now and then. Even the most driven people need some time out to recharge and recuperate, so don’t put off taking your annual leave.
And if your workload feels completely unmanageable and you are having to regularly stay late, ask for help from your employer or your colleagues. They might not realize the full extent of the work and the pressure that you’re being put under. Your employer would much prefer to work with you to relieve your stress than see you completely burn out and have to take time off work to recover.
As a dentist, one of the keys to dealing with stress is going to be managing your time and prioritizing self-care. It might feel like you need to work long hours without breaks to fit in all your patients, paperwork and admin, but following these tips might actually make you more productive and able to get more done in less time.
About the Author
Orion Talmay is a wellness expert and love coach. Through her integrative approach, Orion’s Method, she helps women awaken their inner goddess and nurture their feminine confidence. Orion is a graduate of Tony Robbins’ Mastery University and holds certifications with the AAPT, KBA, and AFFA.