It’s no secret to you, or your dental team, that the dental profession comes with the potential for daily stress that can affect your health, as well as your ability to do your job. Stress can occur in various ways throughout your normal workday. Handling an anxious patient, performing a not-so-familiar procedure or managing the intricacies of health insurance plans to make sure your patients get the treatments they need can all add up to one big stressor by the end of the day.
New dentists have the added stress of running a new business, learning to manage employees and the added burden of dental school loan repayment.
Here are two common stressful scenarios with some tips on how to handle them:
“What do I do when I get patients that are tense and fearful?”
This is a common concern for new dentists. When you walk into the operatory, you can easily pick up the anxiety from the patient without even realizing it. To stop this from happening, it’s important to observe the patient carefully. If you notice they are anxious, tell them you understand their anxiety and instruct them to take a deep breath along with you and to let their body sink into the chair. The deep breath (or two) will help them relax — and put you at ease as well.
“I work in a multi-operatory situation and I’m so tired at the end of the day. How can I stop from burning out?”
Time demands on dentists can be difficult. Self-care is important to keep yourself in good running order. Watch your diet — be sure to eat breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, a decent lunch and a healthy dinner. Don’t forget to schedule your lunch hour on your calendar, so you’re sure to take it. Get some rest during the day — pause for a moment between patients, take a deep breath. Then close your eyes and take a second deep breath. Doing this is like pressing the reset button — kind of like taking a one-minute vacation.
The above content is excerpted from Episode #13: How to Avoid Stress, a podcast created by the ADA and featuring Ben Bernstein, PhD, a performance psychologist specializing in stress reduction and performance enhancement for dentists. Listen to the complete podcast below.