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How the Outside World Affects Us Inside the Dental Practice


Outside events have a bigger impact on us than we may initially believe. It is important to take care of yourself at home and at work in the face of traumatic world events.

How the Outside World Affects Us Inside the Dental Practice. Photo courtesy of Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com.

How the Outside World Affects Us Inside the Dental Practice. Photo courtesy of Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com.

This is a challenging time for everyone. We are watching war unfold in Ukraine before our eyes, prices for food and gasoline are skyrocketing here in the United States, and people are deciding between heat and buying medications as those too have spiraled out of control. The supply chain is still a nightmare, and it is looking like it will get worse long before it gets better. All the while the dental staffing shortage continues to rage on. What do all these issues have to do with working in a dental practice?

Whether you are dentist, hygienist, or front office employee, world events impact your workplace. Employees are stressed and taking it out on each other. You are short staffed, and you are not sure that your vendors can get products to you in a timely fashion. Inflation is skyrocketing, but it is not showing up in your paycheck. To top it off, your back is killing you from leaning over your patients 8 hours a day.

It’s time for a mental health check…

  • How are you doing? Are you overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel that you have the support you need to effectively do your job?
  • Are you dreading getting up and going to work due to patients or colleagues?
  • Have you lost interest in things that normally give you pleasure?
  • Are you bored?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Have you lost or gained weight?
  • Are you using drugs or alcohol to medicate your feelings?
  • Do you think about suicide?

That last question may be sobering, but it needs to be asked. People think that if you ask the question if someone is thinking of killing themselves that that will trigger a suicide. That is not the case. Asking saves lives. It gives people a safe place to talk about the frightening thoughts that are roaming around in their heads. If you take nothing away from this article today, I implore you to ask questions when you feel red flags are going off. You may save a life. If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Help truly is a phone call away.

As a Licensed Independent Social Worker Supervisor, I have seen many things throughout the years. What stands out is how often we do not do a reality check on ourselves nor trust our instincts about those we care about or work with. I am giving you permission to do this. But why now? Life has been turned upside down for everyone in the past 2 years. We have had to go through a worldwide process of change at a soaring rate of speed. Change is hard, and, for some, it is impossible. But the way we think has had to change. Then, combining that with world issues that we have no control over makes some feel helpless.

Mental health issues are very private until they are not. You know what I mean. This is when someone has a breakdown. It impacts everyone you work with when this happens in the office.

The Question is What to Do

  • Talk to someone. Anyone. Your family, friends, online support group, your doctor, or find a therapist. You are not alone in this.
  • Stop watching the news. For some, reading is less upsetting than watching video of war. Sometimes, you traumatize yourself watching repeatedly upsetting videos. This will take a toll on you. Perhaps, limit your news watching to once a day for 15-20 minutes. Sometimes, you need to take a total break from everything that is upsetting to you. Go on a vacation from your technology.
  • Keep a journal. This is one way to express your feelings by putting them down on paper. I recommend going old school on this with writing vs typing. Why? There is a philosophy that handwriting something gets to the core of the emotion differently than typing away, but, typing also works as it helps you to release some of that stress or depression.
  • Look at what you have control over. I cannot control others. As I am getting older and hopefully wiser, I am sitting back more to listen and watch. I do not have to fix everything. I can allow things to happen and not stress myself out over it.
  • Find balance in your life. There must be more in your life than just working, television, and doing the basic things you need to do each day. You need to find something that you enjoy. That could be something as small as taking a bubble bath or joining a softball league.

As the war continues, focus on what you have control over. Find what will make you happy and do it. We do not know what tomorrow will bring, but change is inevitable. Be more patient with yourself and others, know when to seek out help and support, and finally things will get better. If you question that, email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com. You are not alone.

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