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Six easy self-care strategies for dentists

With all the challenges facing the dental industry right now, you might find that you’re under more strain at work than usual. Here are six simple ideas to help you manage stress and take good care of yourself.

1.    Develop healthy habits

It’s one thing to say you understand the importance of diet and exercise and another thing to do it. As a busy professional, it’s a good idea to treat these activities with equal importance to appointments you have with your patients. Schedule time into your week to hit the gym or to go on a bike ride or whatever it is you like to do. For food, consider preparing your every Sunday. You will benefit if you just replace one unhealthy meal per day with proper nutrition.

2.    Meditate

Meditation can be written off as hocus pocus but taking just five minutes per day can really help. There are dozens of different meditation techniques, some as simple as plugging in music and taking some quiet time. Do some research and find a style that works for you.

3.    Learn your triggers

Everyone’s stress triggers are different. Figuring out what sets you off can help you identify the onset of stress before it happens.

4.    Avoid internalizing patient anxiety

Dentistry is a field where the majority of your patients don’t want to be in your office. You might not notice it, but it’s common for dentists to pick up on and internalize the anxiety, stress and fear externalized by some patients. Your job is to give your patients guidance for dealing with their dental anxiety–not to absorb their worries.

5.    Schedule short breaks

It’s easy to say you’ll take a break when you need one and harder to follow through when the day gets busy and your schedule backs up. Keep your eyes on the big picture. You’re not a machine and burning yourself out will put you farther behind than five minutes of peace three or four times per day. Schedule breaks and take them.

6.    Reach out for professional help if you need it

If you’re struggling with managing stress on your own, remember there’s no shame in getting help. A mental health professional can give you the tools you need to overcome work-related stress. Ask peers for recommendations as many therapists have specific experience working with medical and dental professionals and the obstacles they face.