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From the editor's desk: 9 ways I'm managing my stress

Jan. 20, 2022
Dental pros' stress levels have risen dramatically over the past two years, and there's no sign it's letting up anytime soon. Take these small steps to make a big difference in your outlook.

I don’t care what position you have in the dental office; your stress level escalated about two years ago, and it’s only gotten worse. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight with this pandemic, staff shortage, and patient cancellations.

If you’re in management, you’re either trying to keep the schedule full or figuring out where to schedule everyone who wants in. You have to fight the insurance companies (a never-ending task) and find people to work the different shifts, all while fighting with patients who don’t want to adhere to mask mandates, make copayments, or show up on time for their appointments.

If you’re on the clinical team, you’re doing the work of two or three people, dealing with an overflowing schedule, trying to keep up with sterilization, and keep track of supplies and orders that can’t be filled because of back orders.

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The stress is unbearable some days and leaves us feeling exhausted. It also leads to burnout in a big way. So, what are some of the things you can do to keep from feeling like you’re at the end of your rope?

  1. Let it go. Stop trying to do it all. You can’t. End of story. You can’t continue to work at such a high stress level, so lighten the load. Don’t feel like you have to make everything happen. All this was dumped on you and you can’t give all of it your attention.
  2. Prioritize. What has to get done first, and what’s next? Come up with a game plan and tackle it. Make a list, and then knock it out.
  3. Breathe. Take time in your day to catch a break. Leave the office for lunch. Step outside. We all need a break now and then, so give it to yourself before you really need it.
  4. Get up and move. If you find yourself chained to your desk trying to accomplish your tasks, periodically get up and move. Take a lap around the office and clear you mind.
  5. Try aromatherapy. It works. Get a diffuser, light a candle, or use essential oils.
  6. Cut out the caffeine. Too much caffeine can put you on the edge.
  7. Learn to say no. You simply have to place limits on how much of yourself you’re going to give away.
  8. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is where your body heals itself. If you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t healing.
  9. When you clock out, really clock out! Your day is done. Don’t take your work home with you (and don’t bring your home life to work). Dedicate your time to each and don’t overlap them.

You cannot continue to pile mounds of work on yourself and carry the burden of the entire office on your shoulders without being aware that it will come crashing down on you at some point. Burnout is real and we’re seeing it in a big way in dentistry. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to this growing problem.

Take time for yourself. Realize you can’t do it all and be kind to yourself and those around you. You will get through this because you’re amazing. Always remember that!