Dental practices can be stressful places to work. We are busy. We have a lot on the line. Our businesses and business practices are regulated by the government and insurance relationships. And when things go wrong, we risk lawsuits, negative online reviews, and more. It’s no wonder dental professionals feel stressed so often.
You don’t have to look far to find dentistry ranked among the most stressful industries. Nearly every list of high-stress professions includes dentistry, and often toward the top. So what should we do? Should we accept that we’ll feel stressed out for the rest of our working lives? Should we leave the dental professional in search for less stressful work? Or, is there something we can do to reduce stress and improve our mental health, especially during tough times?
In the private Trapped in an Op Facebook community, members recently conducted a mental health check-in. Dozens of members joined in, sharing how they are feeling and support members who are going through tough times. In one of the most active posts in the group, many members expressed appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to share and support each other. If you’re feeling stressed, here are some ways to find the support you need.
Find Professional Help
This is important. In the dental world, we know the value of being treated by trained professionals. With oral health, that means seeking care at a dental practice full of people trained to see what others miss when it comes to oral health. With mental health, trained mental health professionals are trained to see things others miss when it comes to mental health. If you’re struggling, consulting a trained mental health professional can help.
This is especially important because the internet gives us many opportunities to find others and get helpful mental health and stress reduction resources. While that’s great, our mental health is complex. What’s causing you to struggle might not be what causes other people to struggle. Thus, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or depressed, seeking help from trained mental health professionals is wise. And if you’re going through a particularly tough time, it’s even more important to get professional help.
Reach Out to People You Trust
In addition to professional help, connecting with people you trust can help. While they can’t provide the level of professional care a trained professional can, close family and friends know you well and care deeply for you. But they might not know you’re struggling if you don’t let them know.
Reaching out to people you trust can help you in many ways. Emotionally, they can provide a listening ear and safe place to vent. In practical terms, they could help you with daily activities and chores to reduce burdens on you. Taking care of dinner a couple of times and watching children could free up an evening or two for you to rest, relax, or get professional help.
Because close family and friends you trust know you better than most people, they can be very helpful to you when navigating stressful times.
Engage with Supportive Communities
While supportive in-person or online communities will not be full of people who know you well, they often include likeminded people who are going through similar experiences. While they won’t substitute for professional help, especially with serious mental health concerns, they can provide you with support from people outside of your close circle of friends and family members.
Three examples of supportive communities include Facebook groups like Trapped in an Op, Nifty Thrifty Dentists, and Dental Hub 360. Those groups are full of dentists and other dental professionals looking to serve patients well, advance in their careers, and improve dentistry for other professionals.
The discussion in the private Trapped in an Op Facebook community with members sharing struggles and supporting each other is a great example of this type of support in action. Members shared prayer requests, condolences, offers to listen, and more.
Having a consistent presence of likeminded people going through similar experiences can help navigate everyday stresses and industry-specific issues. This can also be helpful for issues that might not require professional help, navigating relationships with family and friends, too.
Do you have the support you need to navigate tough times?
Taking care of your mental health is important, especially in an industry like dentistry that is more prone to stress than others. Getting professional help, reaching out to close family and friends you trust, and engaging with supportive in-person or online communities can help.