4 Tips for managing stress as a dental provider

September is a time of year full of changes, some of which can be a source of stress for you or your family members as kids go back to school and families transition into new routines that can add uncertainty and stress at the best of times.   

This year, COVID-19 is creating uncertainty and changes in routine. The added stressors on top of your usual workload, as well as the additional precautions that your practice is taking due to the pandemic can add up, leading to eventual burnout. This week, we want to provide some resources for caring for your own health as a dental provider and managing ongoing stress during this busy time.  

Running a dental practice can be stressful on its own, moreso with many providers spending long hours with patients while also responsible for managing new challenges for the practice. The high-stakes environment can also be a source of stress.   

While COVID-19 forces the dental practice to face new challenges, this period may result in changes that eventually lead to an improved practice.  While short term social distancing regulations result in lower patient traffic and reduced income for your practice, it could also encourage adoption of new workflows and automation that, for example, improve patient communication while allowing team members to focus on more productive activities. 

 If your workday prior to the pandemic did not accommodate necessary breaks, a lower patient load may be an opportunity to rethink practices workflows and provide time to try new things.  This brings us to our first point, which is: 

1. Find a balance that works for you 

Each practice has its own priorities, routines, and workflows. Some ideas for stress reduction may not be viable for your office. Determining whether an idea fits your personal and practice objectives is an essential factor in whether you will see it through and achieve the desired results. In addition to finding solutions that work for your practice, it is important to find the right balance for your time in and outside of the office. Making time in your day in between appointments to eat, replenish, and rest not only maintains your wellness but also may result in better-quality care given.   

2. Make time for movement 

While it may seem like you are running around a lot during the day between operatories, the average dental professional’s day is usually more sedentary than one might think. Along with making time for necessary breaks during the day, making sure you are stretching, moving, or getting some form of exercise will help improve your wellbeing while simultaneously minimizing stress.  

3. When in doubt, reach out 

If you are finding that it’s hard to keep your stress levels under control, there are many services that you can take advantage of, especially with the movement to online meetings and telehealth. Setting up an appointment with a counselor, doctor, life coach or even just a friend can help you with establishing habits that minimize stress levels. There is nothing to lose by looking for a different perspective, and it may provide a sense of relief. 

4. A team is more than a group of individuals

While everyone on your team may experience challenges in new priorities and routines, all team members may not be impacted to the same degree.  There may be opportunities to temporarily shift responsibilities between team members in order to make the most of the varying skills and capacity of all team members.  In some cases, these changes may uncover new capabilities and help to unlock hidden potential in your practice.  If the new challenges and priorities are shared with team members, you may find solutions that allow everyone to be their best.          

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