The fall season is around the corner. Kids and college students are preparing to focus on their education once again, and patients and dental providers are starting to settle into a routine again now that the Summer is nearly over. Settling back into regular routines is stressful enough. The uncertainties that accompany the current pandemic can make things harder than usual for dental professionals. Additionally, physicians and scientists are finding dramatically higher rates of depression and anxiety due to COVID-19’s impact on our social lives, work lives, and overall wellbeing.
Taking your own personal wellness into account not only benefits your mental and physical health, but also enables you to be more effective in the office. Furthermore, you may find that you provide better quality care to your patients when you make your wellbeing a priority. In this blog post, we want to highlight some techniques you and your team can use to check-in with your wellness and make settling back into routines easier this season.
1. Avoid procrastinating treatment with difficult patients and schedule more intensive treatments earlier in the day
An article* in the British Dental Journal from 2018 asks whether education institutions are doing enough to prepare dental students for the stressors they will face as oral healthcare providers. The researchers (Colley, Harris, Hellyer, and Radford), propose a few solutions to help new dental providers with stress management early on. Some of these solutions include avoiding procrastination when it comes to difficult patients. More difficult clinical procedures can be scheduled at the beginning of the day to reduce end-of-day stress. The article also includes some more generic stress management techniques, such as separating work life from home life, as well as including positive affirmations in one’s morning routine.
2. Make time for physical activity
Researchers continue to cite physical exercise as a major stress reliever due to the production of endorphins. Although you may be on your feet a lot during the day going between operatories, dentistry has been noted as being a fairly sedentary profession. Making sure you are taking breaks to get some movement during your day, or even making some time before or after your time at the office can help you feel a little bit better if you are stressed or overwhelmed.
3. Your team is there for you – utilize their skills!
In your dental practice, you very likely work with a group of skilled individuals who each bring something unique to the table. Passing a responsibility onto a qualified team member may be an effective temporary solution while you use a stress management technique to regroup.
A lot of day-to-day protocols have changed to accommodate COVID-19’s impact on the dental practice. With approximately 63% of Canadians fully vaccinated (as of August 21, 2021), the preventative measures most offices have integrated into their routines are likely to become long-term industry requirements, making daily tasks require more effort and time. While many of us have adjusted to the norms of living through a pandemic, it is important to give ourselves some compassion as we continue to work in difficult circumstances.
RCDSO provides resources for dental providers looking for help with improving their overall wellness. ADA also provides resources for individuals who are looking for resources, as well as some information on statistics regarding dental providers and mental health during the pandemic.
*Colley, J., Harris, M., Hellyer, P. et al. Teaching stress management in undergraduate dental education: are we doing enough?. Br Dent J 224, 405–407 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.220