Mahmood Mawjee discusses the impact of stress on dentists’ mental health.
Dentists are often stressed and facing a myriad of challenges that can make them feel miserable. Spending too much of your time feeling like this can have a detrimental impact on your mental health – and by extension it can ruin your personal and professional life. However, there is a solution. By changing your mindset and building mental resilience, you can totally transform every aspect of your life.
What is mental resilience?
Mental resilience is a powerful tool that allows you to cope with tough times. It is an inner strength that means you can overcome any challenge and come out the other side fiercer than you were before. It is a way to defend your mental state, to keep yourself stable in the face of adversity. It’s a defence mechanism to protect your mental wellbeing, but it can also be used to keep you going – the best defence is a good offence after all!
How does my mindset impact my mental resilience?
To survive, and even thrive, in difficult times, your mindset is key. This determines how you approach a situation and how you react.
For example, you might be exhausted from many months of hard work in the practice and a patient who you went above and beyond to help lodges a formal compliant because they are not happy with their treatment results. How do you react? Do you breakdown in tears, feeling completely overwhelmed and not sleep for the next two weeks worrying about it? Do you throw in the towel and get a job somewhere else? Or is it possible to stay calm, assess what the complaint is about and plan to communicate so you can go home and put it aside?
Maybe instead you get to the practice one day and three members of staff have called in sick, meaning you have to cancel patient appointments and do even more jobs than normal. Perhaps that also then means you will miss your daughter’s birthday party or you’ll be cancelling on a friend yet again. The impact this guilt can have on your mood and your mental state is massive.
By establishing a different mindset, you can improve how you react to such situations. You can be better prepared to find practical solutions and learn to let go of what you can’t help so it does not eat away at you over time. This is the kind of resilience that will change how you live your life.
Be proactive and make a change today!
Assess how much of your time you spend feeling down compared to how often you are happy. We should aim for a 20:80 balance – negativity cannot be eradicated but it should occupy less than 20 per cent of your waking hours. Keep a mood chart for a week and look at your results. Are there patterns in when you feel at your worst? Can you identify the causes? More importantly, can you change how you react to those stimuli so they have a reduced impact on your day?
When there is no one thing that seems to be the problem, it could be your mindset that is holding you back. Implement small but tangible changes each week to see how they affect your life. Get up half an hour earlier than normal each day. Allocate time in the evening to cook yourself a healthy meal. Delegate one of your practice responsibilities to your dental nurse. Introduce an automated patient recall system to reduce no-shows.
These may seem like tiny things, but the joy they could bring will be vast. They will remind you to re-establish a good work-home balance and make life in the practice that little bit easier. If you can do two new things each week, your growth will be exponential and your life will change forever.
- Identify one aspect of your work that is causing you stress and create solution. For example, delegate the task to another appropriate person in the practice, ask for support from your principal, or look for technology that will save you time.
- Identify one aspect of your home life that causes you to feel guilty or like you're missing out and find a solution for this.
- Dedicate one evening a week or weekend a month to spending time with the people you love – take the family to the beach or your partner out for dinner, or make time for self-care like getting your hair cut or watching a movie.
Sometimes, a new perspective or an objective overview from an outsider can give you the insight you need to change your life.
That’s what I do with the team at The Re-ignite Academy – we give you the tools you need as a dentist to take a step back, reassess your life and then implement practical changes to transform your mental health, the way you practise dentistry and the way you live. We’re just a click away – your mental health is worth the few minutes it will take to find out more.
For more information about The Re-Ignite Academy, follow @thereigniteacademy or @mahmoodmawjee on Instagram or visit www.thereigniteacademy.com