It's been a little while since my last blog entry because I realised recently that I was feeling massively stressed. My home life got busier because my wife has been unwell and we lost a family pet, work has been full-on with some big cases being undertaken pushing my boundaries and I have had some job interviews/prospects playing on my mind. So I made a conscious decision to put my phone down in the evenings and largely ignore the forums for a while. But now things are better as I have made some changes in my life I thought this might be a good topic to write about.
With so much going on I have had to take stock of my life and work out how I can cope better. While at work I get so focused on the dentistry and the constant turnover from one pt to the next that I often get to the end of the day and feel really dehydrated. My nurses are good at making tea regularly but I have also taken to bringing a sports bottle to remind me to top up with water as well. If you are dehydrated your brain doesn't work well at all.
The same thing applies if you are not eating properly either. I am normally good at eating a decent amount for lunch while at work but the big cases have meant that I have been rushing my lunch so that I can go do treatment planning or answer emails etc. Try to make sure you actually do have time for a proper lunch to refuel for the afternoon.
I have said previously on these forums that I honestly do feel I am addicted to dentistry. It occupies my mind a lot of the time. Having the passion for high quality dentistry is very important, but you also have to remember to switch off from work. This is something I have not been good at lately. If you don't switch off you may well find yourself burning out leaving you either unable to do good dentistry, losing the passion or causing major home-life problems.
Dentistry requires a sharp mind but I think it is often underestimated how physically demanding the job is too. I used to have a bad back all the time. Making the move to high power loupes has really helped my posture so that isn't a issue any more but I find my shoulders can be quite sore from holding my non-working arm in silly positions for extended periods of time. I think this is made worse by the fact I have not done any proper exercise in years. So two changes I have made recently in my spare time is Tai Chi in the mornings to help stretch/relax my muscles and mind and I have started jogging a few days a week. It is surprising how much of a difference these simple changes make to how I feel.
So the main message in this blog entry is look after yourself. It will help you to survive the stress of dentistry and modern life in general. The suicide rate among dentists is unfortunately extremely high and I think this is something we don't talk about enough.
Dr Chris Harper