Preventing Burnout In Dentistry

Getting burnt out is not like catching a cold its not like you feel great one day then your snuffly and getting a temperature the next. No, burn out creeps up on you it is something that accumulates and before you realise the signs you’re cooked and feeling like crap and wondering why the hell you feel so flat, spent and unmotivated.

Why Dentists Suffer Burn Out

The problem is the warning signs were there right in front of you, you know you push yourself too hard, work too much, burn the candle at both ends but you thought you were super human that you could cope and you’d be ok.

After all to get to and through dental school you were an over achiever you knew how to study and work hard get it all done and then some.

Burn out is like Alzheimer’s the signs were there long before the diagnosis yet they were subtle so you ignored them, pushed through, I’ll be ok its almost the weekend I can catch up on some sleep. The holidays are coming soon I’ll rest then.

But way before the physical outplay mentally and emotionally you were already burning out – lack of concentration, forgetfulness, overwhelm, racy mind, stress, anxiety, depression, frustration and anger, can’t be bothered, life isn’t as much fun. These can all be warning signs you are heading toward burn out, yet we brush them off as either a passing phase or worse still normal because this is dentistry this is owning a dental practice – feeling this way just comes with the territory and I’ve got to push through have you seen my to do list.

Then on top of that I’ve got social and family obligations I can’t rest up there is stuff to do and if I don’t do it it ain’t going to get done. No don’t ask me to delegate or pay someone to take care of it because I tried that before and they just can’t be trusted – they stuff it up and then I have to fix the mess so I might of well have done it myself anyway.

The Push Through Mindset

It’s this mindset and this way of being that is crushing us as human beings as dentists, its wearing us out and making us ill. We are so busy taking care of business and patients that we simply don’t take care of ourselves.

That’s kind of mental isn’t it?

Not once at dental school was I encouraged to take care of my wellbeing – hell I didn’t even hear that word until about 15 years ago and self-care WTF isn’t that what sleep is for – surely a good nights sleep will fix everything as I haul my exhausted ass into work and psyche myself up to handle the patient list, my team and the constant emails, Facebook messages, texts and everyone wanting a piece of me.

Well its time to make a change to shift our perspective from the only time I will look after me first will be if those oxygen masks heaven forbid fall from the overhead space on the airplane to I come first everyday and always.

This is not selfish, in fact it is selfish not to – how can you give your best and show up authentically as you if you are constantly exhausted, running on empty and sick – yes burnout is an illness just because your not sneezing and full of snot it doesn’t mean you are not well.

We are designed to be full of life joyful, energised, and fit for life. Not dull, miserable and good for nothing. Do you think your team, patients and family deserve to have a you who is spent and can’t be bothered or the you that is up and on but naturally so.

Stopping Dentist Burnout

Then lets stop this cycle of pushing to the limit and beyond and switch to a lifestyle that puts you first – that cares for your health, your body and your soul.

I know you want to be the best dentist you can be but there is more to that than clinical skills, you need to be present, at ease and there for your practice and patients and I truly believe you are not being a great or even average dentist if you are burning or burnt out because I’ve been there. And in burn out you simply don’t give a shit because its all too hard and everything is an effort and even the slightest bit of pressure or stress spirals you down into a dark dark place.

So let’s get real and make you the number one priority in your life and your dental office.