Managing work/life balance around the holiday season

Damian Siderides, Oral Health Therapist
Many would agree that ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year.’ But dental practices often experience a surge of activity coming up to the holidays that can leave teams feeling stressed and tired.

Here are some pointers to help manage your work/life balance through the jolly season.

Managing work-life balance


Don’t feel pressured to take on more work than you can bear.

Waiting rooms and front desks can get pretty frantic. You may struggle to fit in emergencies and continuing care during the rush. And sometimes, as we all know, seemingly ordinary treatment doesn’t go as planned, causing delays. Before you agree to take on extra days or more hours, think about your work/life balance, overall wellbeing, and whether you’ll be able to deliver the best possible care. Overworking without the support we need can lead to frustration and resentment, not to mention missing out on downtime! Share the workload with your team so everyone gets a chance to chill out.

Go easy on the treats (and alcohol)

Many practitioners receive beautiful hampers full of biscuits, chocolates, cakes, nuts and alcoholic beverages as thoughtful gifts from colleagues and patients. These foods and drinks are high in calories but low in nutritional value. Try and prepare some healthy meals at home instead - here are some great recipes for inspiration.

Alcoholic beverages are also something colleagues and patients might give you and are often present at end of year celebrations. But remember, there is no such thing as a risk-free level of consumption when it comes to alcohol. Regular and heavy alcohol consumption can adversely affect your concentration, mood and sleep. Given the health risks associated with alcohol try and find healthier drink alternatives for your holiday celebrations.

Have some down time to relax

Get plenty of rest when you are away from work. Try and include some days with no obligations or appointments to recharge your batteries. Perhaps you have a favourite spot to do some light reading, or you can treat yourself to a long soak in the tub with your favourite bath salts. Here are some other ideas:

  • Burn some incense
  • Light some scented candles
  • Play some relaxing music
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Cloudgaze or stargaze
  • Wear your favourite clothes
  • Get a massage
  • Go to a spa

Enjoy nature and the warm weather

Aussie summers are perfect for getting active in the great outdoors. We’re very fortunate to have so much natural beauty in our midst, too. Why not go for a bike ride, a swim, or a bushwalk? Or play some cricket or volleyball with your friends? Be sure to protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water!

Set time aside to spend with your crowd

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your mates, mentors, and loved ones for what may be an overdue catch-up to break up your week. It might get tricky to find a table at short notice (reservations come in handy!) but winding down with good company and a fun activity goes a long way.

Try a new hobby or pick up an old one

The dental world can be very immersive. Clinical days require laser-like focus, resilience, and physical strength. Sometimes it’s a challenge to pursue interests outside the practice - I’ve written before about setting boundaries. But having structured activities unrelated to work allow us to be creative, develop skills, meet new people and share ideas.

Here are some ideas:

  • Board games
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Video games

There are plenty of meetup apps and social media groups to help you. Classes can help you build confidence and meet new people. Have a look at what’s out there and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Consider a getaway

It’s been a long three years of COVID-19 and many of us are long overdue for a break. As Australians we’re fortunate to have so many great holiday destinations close by. Why not take a day trip to somewhere off the beaten track, or book a stay somewhere you’ve been before? It can be helpful to include a dental seminar for CPD points or to catch up with peers. But sometimes it’s nice to switch off and unplug from work altogether.

Reach out for help

If you are struggling to manage your work/life balance or having any other issues, you can reach out to DPS for free and confidential support. Qualified counsellors are there for you 24 hours a day, every day of the year, on 1800 377 700 or reach out via email.