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For many dental practitioners, their work day involves receiving a steady stream of patients, diagnosing problems and performing procedures while working in a frequently small, clinical space that’s often brightly lit. Some practitioners find that the lack of natural light in the clinical setting, together with the precise, focused and sometimes lengthy nature of dental procedures, can be mentally tiring.
If you find that the constant focus on others, your work environment or the nature of your practice is having a negative impact on your physical and emotional health, there are things you can do.
If your consultation room is small and windowless, investigate creating the illusion of more space by adjusting the lighting, adding small indoor plants that don’t need much light or by hanging art that shows wide, open areas such as a relaxing beach scene. Soft music or relaxing nature soundtracks can also help to distract from the room’s size by shifting focus subconsciously to what’s beyond it.
Some dental practitioners report that long periods of standing, twisting or sitting can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
Review the ergonomics of your set up to reduce the risk of these physical problems. Common ergonomic issues that dental practitioners need to look out for are unsuitable equipment such as poorly designed chairs and stools, not keeping neutral posture and improper positioning of work instruments and materials. If you’ve reviewed your workstation and are unsure if any improvements can be made, look into getting a professional ergonomic assessment.
While it’s no substitute for an ergonomic work environment, regular stretching during the day can counter some of the effects of poor posture. Take a moment between patients to stretch or set a timed reminder in your phone to prompt you to stretch and move. Some smart watches can do this automatically when they detect the wearer hasn’t moved for an extended period of time.
In a busy practice it can be easy to skip breaks, which are important to relax, rest, replenish and connect to colleagues.
Make sure you take the time to have an adequate lunch break during the day for refreshment, exercise and interaction with others. A quick walk around the block with a colleague can keep you refreshed and engaged with peers.
Sometimes it might seem like there is too much to get done to adequately take breaks during the day. However, in the long run your productivity suffers when you skip breaks and you increase the risk of burnout. If you really can’t find the time to take a proper lunch break, try and incorporate smaller breaks into the day to recharge.
Taking these steps to improve your wellbeing at work can have an effect on your overall health and happiness. Visit our Facebook page for more tips on self-care and wellbeing to keep you happy and healthy.