It is Sunday afternoon and your disposition changes. Immediately, the negative attitude sets in, frustration kicks at full speed, your temper just got a bit shorter, and your spouse is wondering why. Could this be because you are already dreading Monday morning as it soon approaches? Maybe this is not you yet but you might be heading down this dark path of burnout in your dental career.
I have heard Dr. Bill Dickerson say on many occasions, “Dentistry can be the best hobby in the world.” That might sound far off for you, but instead of thinking this statement is nonsense, why not explore his concept and figure out what makes your career in dentistry so exciting after all these years, especially for someone like Dr. Dickerson.
Many aspects can hinder the development of your practice and cause you to lose sight of your true passion, which is dentistry. Maybe you are experiencing a poor work and life balance, intermingled with frequent cases of failure, a reduction in practice numbers, and barely getting by each year. Having the wrong team members in your practice, a low treatment acceptance ratio, and no time to focus on the type of care you wish to provide for your patients could be what is driving your business into a downward spiral. On the bright side, there are viable options for getting your head back in the game and your business on the right track for success.
Getting back to enjoying dentistry again might seem as impossible as climbing the highest mountain when you are burned out or getting close to feeling burned out. The journey back to excellence is not as hard as one may think. Williams Dental Lab has literally witnessed hundreds of team members and dentists from decades of being a “relationship based laboratory” go from exhaustion, monotony, frustration and on the verge of bankruptcy, back to loving dentistry again. How is this possible you ask? Where do you start? Here is how!
We know that failing to take care of you involves more than physical health. It is important to take the time to recharge for your mental health as well. You are dealing with patients every day that are frustrated, in pain, and hearing bad news about their health. It is no wonder that you need to maintain a healthy state of mind for yourself.
A few tips for recharging:
Take a Break:
Take a few extra days off (a holiday or a weekend if you are in a money crunch) and have a stay-cation. You do not have to travel but instead, stay home and take both a mental and physical break from the office. If you have a negative attitude and feel frustrated or overwhelmed at the office, then you are not going to make the situation any better. These feelings can send you on a downhill spiral, so taking a break to salvage your burnout is a positive move forward.
With the end of the year on the horizon, it is important to set aside time for a planning meeting with your team. Take time to look at the calendar and mark time off throughout the year and truly turn work off, simply take a break. No matter the intention for your time off, everyone needs, and deserves, a vacation every once in a while. Take time to relax, have fun and recharge. This will help take care of the immediate issue, which is allowing yourself a recharge. The long-term effects of a recharge will be that of a positive one.
Make Time for Other Hobbies:
Whether it is an hour a day or a couple hours a week, make some time for things outside of dentistry. If you do not have any hobbies use that time to explore the many options that are available. Do something that is out of your comfort zone. You never know, you just might enjoy it. For those in a financial pinch, not all hobbies cost money. Consider volunteering, visit free museums, go on a hike, or take up reading by borrowing books from the library. Building a well-rounded life will help make you more interesting in your professional life.
Being with your family or extended family is, and should be a part of who you are. We all need love, acceptance, and friendship, and that comes from family. The family does not necessarily have to be a blood relationship, but family is about those who have been with you throughout your career and those who love you and show their support.
Once you start taking care of yourself physically and mentally, it is time to get inspired again, and passionate about dentistry. The best and easiest way to do that is to continue learning.
Here are some ways to reignite your passion:
Learn Something New:
Block off time on your schedule each week for learning something new. With dental publications being available online, it makes reading accessible anywhere. Subscribe to a few blogs or even consider an online course or webinar. You will have more activities to create a variety each week and do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Doing the same thing repetitively is part of what got you in this career in the first place.
Get Out For Lunch:
Find a few networking opportunities in your area and take advantage of them. Look at medical and specialty relationships when considering lunch out of the office. It is great to develop new relationships throughout your community as new doctors arrive and older ones retire. For team members, it is great to find referring doctor’s teams and have lunch with them. You will notice that the more you interact with others, the more energy they can stir up inside of you. Lunchtime should be a positive experience.
You sensed this tip was coming, right? Getting out of the office, surrounding yourself with other professionals in the dental field, and learning a new procedure or new tip within an old procedure is the most effective way to get inspired again. Conduct some research to ensure that you are attending a course that will hold your interest. It is time to stop doing the same thing and expect different results.
Take Care of Yourself
Remember that you cannot solve the personal problems of everyone in your office, but what you can do is take care of your own. This does not mean you quit caring about others on your team. Instead, it simply means that you have to allow others to take care of their own issues; you cannot take care of everyone around you. Do not take on more than you can chew, so to speak. “Yes,” is my favorite word in the English language, and “no” is always a word that many professionals in dentistry have a difficult time saying. When you make a commitment, ensure that you can give it your all.
A few things you can do to take care of yourself:
Change your eating habits:
For some of us, this means cutting back on the goodies that are brought into the office by patients. For others, it may be planning your meals out before the workweek starts so that you can eat healthier. The frequency of fast food for lunch will catch up with you FAST…hence the word “fast.” You will grow out of your scrubs quicker than you think. You can still step out for lunch but not for the fast food order but rather for a breather from the office. Try choosing a healthier option when you do need to step away for a lunch break.
Whether you are guilty of watching TV while you fall asleep, binging on Netflix late into the night, or leaving your phone beside your bed all night long, it is time to develop better sleep habits. You and your work “family” deserve your best each day, and it is impossible to do so if your brain has not had an adequate amount of deep sleep to cleanse and repair itself. If you do not believe me, check out the research on sleep disorders and its effects on the brain and body.
For me, this is a no-brainer because I do it daily, but for many people this is that mental mountain to climb again. So start slow, take a walk, do a few sit-ups or jumping jacks, or even stretching each morning before work. Starting slow is how any good habit begins. Just start somewhere.
If you are dealing with potential burnout or you have already arrived at the destination of burnout, take this information and make some forward movements to help yourself and to prevent damaging the relationships with those around you. Williams Dental Laboratory understands the stresses that dentistry brings. We value the work that you do, and we want you to be around for a long time to turn your dental job into an exciting hobby. You have the power to change lives, so do it!