I have been listening to a couple of great dental podcasts this past week, both of which had the same interesting guest speaking about, among other things, stress and burnout of dentists.
I have to say that it was incredibly helpful to hear from a dentist about the stress they are under and how, at times, they feel powerless to communicate this with their team. I was a dental assistant for many years and hope I did not add to or create a stressful day for my dentists, but I am sure I did, especially in my younger, more self-absorbed years.
With a more experienced, compassionate and wiser head on my shoulders, I would like to think that I would offer the opportunity for dentists and team members to voice any concerns and stresses they have so a healthier working environment could be achieved in the surgery.
During one of the conversations, Annalene spoke about the importance of breathing during difficult moments in your day.
During particularly intense moments, the sympathetic nervous system goes a bit crazy and performing breathing exercises can trip your parasympathetic nervous system and neutralise the adrenaline and cortisol that is coursing through your system.
The breathing technique is:
- Breathe in for 4 counts.
- Hold this breath for 2 counts.
- Breathe out for 6 counts.
- This is a total of 12 seconds.
Practising this breathing technique several times throughout the day may just help reduce your stress levels enormously.
Now consider this: the etching process during composite restorations is usually 10 seconds. Light-curing bond and composite is 10-20 seconds. Might I suggest that dentists and assistants use these 10-second opportunities to practice the breathing technique that Annalene suggests? Imagine the beneficial compounding effect of reducing the tension and stress in your body throughout the day.
Prevention is far better than cure when it comes to dentistry and the same is certainly true for stress. Take advantage of a usually time-consuming act of etching and curing and flip it to become valuable, calm-inducing seconds that could save your state of mind and body, and help you build a great culture in your practice!