We all have our stress triggers during the workday — demanding patients, multitasking, that towering stack of medical bill receipts, the phone call you don't have time to return, or even the sound of a team member slurping their morning coffee. Regardless of what sends your blood pressure up, working in a dental practice can be seriously stressful.
Dentists, hygienists, assistants, and other employees you work with are more likely to experience stress and anxiety than people in any other profession, and it's worse when you factor in other issues, like childcare or dealing with COVID-19 mandates and employee laws. Even if the pandemic is (hopefully) winding down, it remains a huge stressor, particularly in the dental industry.
Stress and negative workplace culture is one of the highest causes of absenteeism. As such, de-stressing and improving office calm can improve employee retention. It's also less expensive than hiring a new employee. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your practice’s atmosphere that don't involve a vacation in Hawaii. Follow these tips to destress yourself, improve your sense of calm, and help create a healthy workplace for you, your coworkers, and even your patients.
1. Breathe (Properly)
As you read this, take a break and remember to breathe as part of a mindfulness practice or meditation practice. Research shows that the simple act of mindful breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress in the body. However, most of us don't breathe properly, and this increases stress levels. When we learn how to breathe deeply, it sends a message to our brains to relax, making it a tremendous tonic for high-pressure jobs, including dentistry. This is why mindfulness training and mindfulness exercises have been found to help people break from autopilot and engage in better mindful working.
Breathing exercises and meditation can help in many ways, including improving decision-making and emotional intelligence.
Pro-tip: Did you know that HR for Health can help you make your employees aware of de-stressing tips? Informational documents related to ongoing education — including tips to destress yourself — can be found in our software. We can also electronically send this information to your team and make sure they get notifications whenever you communicate with them. Communication is quick and effective.
Mindful breathing leads us to meditation, which isn't just for monks or hippies anymore. Around 14% of Americans have tried meditation at least once. It's a brilliant way to practice "mindfulness" by relaxing and becoming aware of your mind and the thoughts that come and go — and let them go. The great thing about meditation is that you can do it at home or in your practice, even if it's just time spent relaxing. The benefits of mindfulness on your mental health are numerous, and mindfulness meditation can be exceptionally helpful when it comes to managing stress and other uncomfortable emotions.
Research and case studies have all highlighted the benefits of meditation. Indeed, these benefits are limitless for dental hygienists, oral surgeons, and other team members in your practice:
- Controls stress
- Reduces anxiety
- Promotes self-awareness
- Increases attention span
- Improves emotional health
Office meditation can even be offered as a valuable employee perk. If your employees are interested, consider organizing regular office meditation sessions — or dedicated office space for it. Doing so can create a healthier workplace and give employees a chance to destress themselves. It can also drive home a fundamental truth: You care about the health of your team members.
Did you know that stress can be one of the biggest causes of absenteeism in your dental practice? By tracking attendance and time-keeping, you can catch trends early-on and proactively, giving you the ability to provide support to stressed-out team members and improve productivity. Learn about HR for Health's powerful HR management solutions designed for dental practices like yours.
3. Encourage Exercise and Good Nutrition
One of the best ways to destress is to ensure you're getting enough exercise and maintaining proper nutrition. Helping your team members do the same can reduce stress levels. Research shows that regular exercise can:
- Enhance mood
- Increase self-confidence
- Promote relaxation
- Lower symptoms of anxiety and mild depression
- Improve sleep
While team members might not feel comfortable going to the gym right now, taking the dog for a walk or jogging in the park can reduce stress symptoms.
Proper nutrition also plays a part in stress regulation. A healthy diet may counter stress by lowering blood pressure and boosting the immune system.
Pro tip: Regular performance reviews and check-ins help you identify the signs of stress and burnout in your team members. Optimize these reviews with performance and task management tools from HR for Health, the leading HR management platform for office managers and HR professionals in the dental industry. With our software, you can identify problematic metrics, like tardiness and absenteeism. This can help you spot trends early — before they become a problem — and help get a great employee back on track. You can also document any conversations and follow up if issues remain. Discover more here.
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4. Look Away from Your Screen (After Reading this Article)
Whether at home or at work, staring at a computer screen all day can affect the brain, increase anxiety, and impact overall health. Add in the time spent on social media, and you probably look at a screen way too much. The glare from your screen stresses the visual system and musculature in the head as well as aggravates the eyes, neck, and shoulder areas.
WebMD recommends the 20-20-20 rule. You simply look away from your screen every 20 minutes and gaze at something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Computer-dependent office managers and administrative employees, in particular, might struggle with this rule, but practicing it could reduce stress levels considerably. Doing so can make major improvements on your overall well-being.
Did you know that you can include resources and procedures for team members around stress and burnout in your employee handbook? Create a handbook for team members in your dental practice here. Or check out more HR tips here.
Stress: The Essential Guide That Will Help Your Dental Practice
Dental practice owners and office managers often work with employees to help them learn de-stressing tools, regardless of full- or part-time status. This is often the case when you need to improve job performance, help your employees increase their job satisfaction, and improve employee well-being. HR for Health is here to help provide you with tools to spot problematic trends, communicate with your employees, and
create a healthy workplace where employees are both high-performing and happy. Sometimes, helping an employee is a matter of hearing out what they need. Doing so can help create office calm, a healthy workspace, and ensure that your employees stay productive, regardless of whether you manage an experienced practice or a start-up.
About HR for Health
HR for Health is an all-in-one HR software solution dedicated to helping the dental industry. We can help improve your workplace with training programs that are backed by the latest research and neuroscience.
Our human resources platform features all the tools practice owners need to manage payroll, timekeeping, 401(k), and more with total integration and ease. We also have experts available that can provide you with professional and custom advice designed to help your management team with interventions, communication skills, employment law, and tips on how to run your dental office. This makes HR for Health a must-have service for dental professionals.
It doesn't matter if you're looking for HR support for a small business or you’re a large group private practice. It doesn't matter if you're located in California, Florida, Alabama, Texas, New York, or New Jersey: HR for Health has the solution to fit your practice and budget. Reach out to an HR for Health account representative to learn more: Schedule a Meeting