Mental health – look after yourself
It’s important for dental professionals to look after themselves both physically and mentally. Not only does this ensure your well-being, but it also enables you to deliver the highest quality care to your patients.
Stress can challenge mental health
However, maintaining your psychological health may be easier said than done given the occupational stresses you face on each day. These are further exacerbated if you are studying at the same time.
Dr Megha Upadhyaya, an FD at Aldershot , shares her journey through university:
“At university, the sheer workload was a major stress factor as it could be overbearing at times. I found striking a work-life balance difficult due to the demanding timetable which sometimes clashed with extra-curricular activities I was interested in. At the same time, I was worried about whether I was treatment planning correctly for my patients and if I was providing the best care for them. Dentistry can have a big impact on someone’s life so I wanted to get it right for them.”
Take a break
While these concerns affected Megha when studying for her degree, they will undoubtedly sound familiar to professionals who have studied for postgraduate qualifications. The same time pressures apply. So do concerns about quality of patient treatment delivered. However, in such situations there are things you can do to combat the stress and improve your mental wellbeing. Megha goes on to share what she found helpful:
“I found myself revising for many continuous hours before an exam. However, I realised that I wasn’t working efficiently and I wasn’t looking after myself. At the worst times, I would stay in my room for hours, I wouldn’t talk to anyone and I felt terrible.
“When I recognised the problem, I knew I had to make a change. I made myself take a break and tried to relax. I started going to the gym so I had something else to focus on. This really helped me and it was great for both my physical and mental health. Also, I would use apps and YouTube videos to practise mindfulness and meditation, and I would try to channel all the positive energy from this into everything I was doing. When studying, I would go to the library or elsewhere on campus. In 2-3 hours of work I would complete the same amount and quality of work as I was doing my room in 6 hours.”
As a dental professional, it is crucial to find this balance between working hard and looking after yourself. It will help you cope better with the stresses of the job and ultimately enable you to provide enhanced patient care. It will also encourage job satisfaction and help you enjoy what you do for an improved state of mind.
“All the dentists I’ve met so far have encouraged me to maintain a life outside dentistry,” adds Megha. “They have commented on how important it is to find a hobby that relaxes and excites you. Consequently, it provides something else to think about when you leave the practice. I think it will be essential achieving a work-life balance and maintaining my mental health.”
We might highlight the topic in October each year for World Mental Health Day, but mental wellbeing is important all year round. Make sure you’re looking after yourself.