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  • Dr. Neha Kapila

Doctor Chaos to Doctor Calm-Part 4 ;Burnout Recovery


As a Dental professional, Dental practice owner/ Dental associate, a leader in the dental profession, and a pioneer in your field, you want bigger better things in life. You are set out to achieve big dreams and goals for yourself, and you are working towards it with immense passion and dedication. You want to positively impact every life you touch, and are more than capable of doing it, while growing and being successful in your practice.

But, why in the midst of all this, do you sometimes or maybe all the time feel like blah!!

A chronic feeling of exhaustion that doesn’t go away and you know it’s not just about having one bad day. What you are feeling is called 'Burnout'. It’s being stuck in a state of constant, chronic physical, mental, and emotional stress, leading to exhaustion.

I feel you, my friend!! I can relate to you on this and was in the same boat a couple of years ago.

Although interrelated and intertwined, the cause of burnout in most cases is professionally related, but personal struggles can wreak havoc and cause burnout the same, as was my case.

If anything, it might be harder for some professionals to accept and seek help for burnout, if the cause is a personal life, rather than work-related problems.

My tipping point came a bit late, and if you could take the single most important takeaway from today’s blog post, it would be to not keep pushing yourself and be in denial mode for long. Seek help sooner, than later.

When I was still in denial mode, so as to not think about what I was going through and not to cause inconvenience because of me to others, I kept status quo and kept giving myself reasons to not seek help: --

I can handle it... I am a tolerant person... I am very patient...I am strong...I am a professional...I am an introvert...I am a superwoman... I can't let my people down, I have to keep going, and whatnot...

But I knew what it was and in reality, I was just afraid of the change and fearful of what would happen in the future for myself and my kids and kept pushing myself till I couldn’t anymore...

Can you relate to this?

Time lost does not come back. I had to come to terms with myself, that I can't go on like this, and I am not going to be able to survive like this (and, it did get to that point for me, unfortunately).

And that’s when I started taking action towards changing this monster of a Chaos in my life, and turning it into Calm for myself, my people, and the profession that I love so dearly.

If you are like me, you love taking care of other people, your patients, helping colleagues, inspiring people, and impacting lives positively.

**But, where do you draw that line for yourself?

With never-ending responsibilities and plates in the air to balance by yourself, When and how do you put yourself and your well-being first, and accept you are going full throttle on all engines and you don’t have any more energy left, to burn yourself out anymore.

For some of us, this is a very hard thing to do; to slow down, say ‘No’ and not push ourselves over our limits physically, mentally, emotionally, before it’s too late.

My burnout recovery started, when I accepted that I was burnt out, made changes in my personal and professional life, and sought help from professionals.

My story of burnout is not unusual. It's in fact very common among dental professionals and many of my Rockstar Dental Clients suffer from this and seek help through coaching from us to make changes for burnout recovery, and some of them during our coaching sessions find the clarity that they are in fact burnt out and then start their journey towards recovery.

So, let’s discuss this Burn out pandemic that is creating havoc among colleagues in our profession, no less than the current COVID pandemic we are all going through.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is now considered an actual psychological disorder caused by chronic, unresolved stress.

Burnout is unfortunately very common among dental professionals, and very few burnout victims see it coming until it's too late.

For people truly suffering from burnout, it’s a problem that significantly interferes with their health, happiness, and overall quality of life, and is much more than a bad day or a bad week.

Work burnout is a state of overwhelming stress, where constant physical and mental exhaustion can lead to apathy and “growing cynicism and hostility,” writes The British Psychological Society.

Burnout progression occurs in stages, just like any other illness.

https://www.winona.edu/stress/bntstages.htm

Symptoms can vary from person to person. Research states, most common ages for people suffering from burnout are ages 25-44 yr. old.

Some general signs and symptoms of Burnout;

-Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion

-Lower resistance to illness

-Lack of regular meals or interruption in eating patterns sleep problems

-Working late or through lunchtimes

-Lack of concentration

-Chronic tiredness or difficulty getting out of bed in the morning

-Demotivation and detachment from your work

-Depleted energy levels

-Detachment in personal relationships

-Lower productivity

-Behavioral changes.

-Social isolation

Burnout is more likely in some personality traits. Let’s go over some of them.

  • Perfectionist attitudes; as a recovering perfectionist, I try to not go over these in my mind, but used to in the past; I still need to keep a check on this, on a regular basis with myself, so I don’t go into a spiral again.

(“I have to do everything right and 110 percent. I can’t afford to make any mistakes. People depend on me. I’m responsible for everything. I have to have everything under control.”)

  • Low expectation of competency; negative beliefs and self-sabotaging mindset.

(“I can't make it. I don't stand a chance. They are better than me, let them handle it”)

  • Very pronounced need for harmony; These are the people-pleasers. I was one of them. You need to learn how to say 'No', without feeling guilty.

(“Everyone must be satisfied. I mustn’t offend anyone. I can't say no. I have to satisfy everyone and keep everyone happy.”)

  • The belief that they are being controlled from outside; Let other people and situations control them and their life.

(“I am only a very drop in the ocean: Others decide about me. I'm just a puppet.”)

Frustration grows over time. Those affected only notice their great exhaustion when the mood changes from euphoria to resignation or they quit. A feeling of inner emptiness spreads. It hits some people like a blow.

The triggers include excessive workload, high time and deadline pressures, and a lack of a voice and communication in the company/home,no work-life balance.

The first thing that strikes friends and family is usually the increased irritability of the person affected.

Burnout is more likely when people;

  • Expect too much of themselves.

  • Never feel that the work they are doing is good enough.

  • Feel inadequate or incompetent.

  • Feel unappreciated for their work efforts.

  • Have unreasonable demands placed upon them.

  • Are in roles that are not a good job fit.

  • Have a toxic/unfair workplace environment.

Also, when people;

  • Have to Juggle too many things at a time or are wearing way too many hats at work /personal life.

  • Value and goal conflicts with the people around them.

Because it can be chronic, affecting both the health and performance of employees at all levels of organizations, prevention strategies are considered the most effective approach for addressing workplace burnout.

Also, we have to address both the internal and external causes of burnout if we want to heal our profession.

So how can you prevent Dental Professional burnout?

Here are some of my top tips;

>Take care of your health and seek help, holistically :-

In taking care of others, do not lose yourself. Take care of your physical, mental, emotional,and spiritual health and well being, as a priority.

Eating well balanced diet, exercise,and good sleeping habits are a must for preventing burnout, and also during recovery.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly, is seen to be very helpful for burnout prevention and recovery.

Seek help as needed, sooner than later.

>Pencil Downtime into Your Day: -

Have at least one evening a week to stop thinking about dentistry and do something else.

This could be relaxing in front of the TV, reading a book, going to the gym, being outdoors, or doing whatever you like.

Make sure you also get a break in the middle of the day to “switch off” and have a dedicated lunch break for everyone in the dental office.

>Connect with Colleagues and friends on a regular basis: -

Dentistry can be a lonely profession.

It can’t be emphasized enough that you must build your professional network not only for clinical support but also for personal support.

Find a mentor or schedule regular one-to-one talks with your line manager to discuss your practice and concerns if any.

Stay in touch with your non-dental friends too.

Take regular vacations with friends and family, to recuperate from work.

>Stick to Your Schedule as much as possible: -

Often, burnout can be the result of a lack of discipline in how you divide your time and prioritize doing things.

This could be letting work run into your downtime or even the opposite: letting social activities slip into work time.

Watch the time you spend on social media and gadgets.

>Make Your Work Environment Empowering and Positive, and beware the toxic and negative people around you: -

An office environment where there is a high level of mutual respect and everyone on the team feels safe to communicate has been strongly associated with lower burnout levels.

Yet many offices still promote a traditional top-down hierarchy and often treat team members with a certain level of disrespect and disregard another person’s health and well-being.

A toxic and negative work environment can be harmful to everyone involved not only personally, but also for the business.

**Where do you fall on the Burnout continuum?

Do you relate to any of these personality traits and outcomes mentioned above?

What are some of your top tips for Burnout prevention in your dental practice and personal life? Let us know in the comment section

And, reach out...We are here to help you with preventing burnout, and with your BURNOUT Recovery process...

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