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Take A Break

Editor’s note: 5 ways to create a healthy work environment

Dec. 16, 2021
The chaos is real, but there are ways to survive it and keep yourself mentally fit. Here are Tija Hunter's top tips for surviving and thriving in our demanding profession.

Stress is off the charts these days. Dental offices are shorthanded, schedules are busting at the seams, and there is little time for breaks or lunch. Our profession is suffering, with team members experiencing burnout and leaving their practices. How can we take care of ourselves and our practices before we go off the deep end? Here are some things you can do to improve your days.

Show appreciation

This is often said and seldom implemented. Simply being told “thank you” is one of the greatest things we can hear. But are you mindful of saying it to others? Do you tell your coworkers, “Hey, thanks for bringing back my patient” or “Thanks for cleaning up my room”? Yes, as a team we’re expected to work together. But knowing that your coworkers have your back means a lot and showing appreciation to your coworkers will make you feel better.

Remove the negativity

Negativity is everywhere! A positive work environment is a healthy one. But how do you create positivity when you’re surrounded by Negative Nellies? It can be too easy to give into the negative and get lost in the depths of hell when everything around you is falling apart. Identify the source of the negativity at work and remove yourself from it. If it’s coworker confrontation and someone is trying to drag you into a conflict, put a stop to it. Remember, you control your emotions, so don’t allow them to stress you out.

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Take your breaks

Breaks should be nonnegotiable. Dental assistants tell me too often that they don’t get breaks or lunch and work eight to 12 hours a day. This is against most labor laws, and you shouldn’t be expected to deal with this kind of schedule. Tell your office manager or doctor that you’ll be taking breaks and going to lunch, and then do it! Step out of the office and enjoy some downtime. We all need this, and it’s absolutely necessary for your mental health.

Try to mentally clock out

When you clock out at the end of the day, mentally clock out as well. I see many social media posts from dental assistants saying how stressed they are about their jobs. If your position is taking over your personal space, you need to reevaluate where you work. When you go into the office you should leave your personal baggage at home, and the same goes for work. Don’t allow it to control your life. Work is not life!

Set your expectations

Many dental assistants have no idea what their job description is. They understand the basics, but let’s face it, we all operate differently. Get a complete understanding of what the expectations are for your position. Are you expected to help up front? Are you expected to prepare lab cases? Are you expected to clean up at night? I promise you that nobody is aware of everything dental assistants do, and it’s a lot! By sitting down and working through a list, maybe you can come up with an optimal workflow.

Chaos is all around us. Finding ways to create some stress-free moments throughout your days is necessary to mental wellness. The bottom line is that if you’re suffering and need support, find someone to speak with. Dental assistants are in demand right now, so no one needs to put up with an office that doesn’t value your mental wellness. You need to be the best you can be for your family. Focus on what you can control and walk away from what you can’t control. Now, enjoy your holidays!