Most of us will have experienced some form of work-related stress during the course of our careers. However, when the occasional pressure of a big project or hectic day of patients becomes an ongoing problem, it can be harmful to both our mental and physical health. In this article, we’re looking at some of the ways you can aim to boost your mental wellbeing by effectively managing stress in the workplace.
When we feel as though the demands of our jobs outweigh our ability to perform or cope, we can end up suffering from work-related stress. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and overwhelm, and can also negatively impact our productivity.
There are a number of ways we can prioritise our mental wellbeing at work and minimise the effects of work-related stress.
A busy patient roster, looming deadlines, or an extra-long to-do list can all contribute to the reasons we don’t take breaks as often as we need to. However, making sure you take the break periods you’re legally entitled to can help to avoid burnout and give you some much-needed headspace from your workload. As a bonus, you’re likely to return to work feeling more focused and productive, making it easier to tick off those important tasks with a clear head.
Understanding what triggers your stress in the workplace, as well as how you respond to these triggers, can help you be prepared for demanding situations and develop healthy responses. A good way to do this is to keep a journal for a couple of weeks, noting down common stressors and identifying patterns in the way you react. This will allow you to monitor your reactions and decide on the best course of action (for example, rather than losing your temper, you might make a conscious decision to take some time out before responding so you can react in a calm and measured way).
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious in the workplace, it’s important to know you don’t have to suffer in silence. Speak to your manager about how you’re feeling, with the purpose of collectively developing a plan for how best to manage your stressors and improve your mental wellbeing. As mental health is linked to productivity, your manager should take your concerns seriously and be committed to helping you deal with the situation.
When you’re working in a busy practice, it can sometimes be difficult to set boundaries to avoid taking on more than you actually have time for. However, knowing when to say ‘no’ to a request - whether it’s from a colleague or someone more senior - is critical to prevent overloading yourself and ending up stressed and overwhelmed. In this situation, communication is key - explain that you’re at capacity and, if needed, suggest a more realistic timeline or approach to getting the task done.
What you do outside the workplace to maintain your mental wellbeing plays a big part in how effectively you manage stress when you’re at work. A healthy, balanced lifestyle that takes into account both your physical and mental health can help you deal with day-to-day stress and anxiety. For example, regular physical activity - whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a run, or practicing yoga - is a great way to boost your mental wellbeing, while making time for hobbies outside of work can boost your happiness and help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress or are struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety or depression, you may benefit from speaking to a licensed counsellor who can help you manage and overcome the challenges you’re facing. To find a counsellor, you can talk to your doctor or look for a counsellor in your local area via the Australian Counselling Association website.
You can also get in contact with Dental Practitioner Support, established by the Dental Board of Australia, which is the first national 24/7 telephone and online service for all dental practitioners. Callers will have access to an experienced team who can provide confidential advice and referral on a wide range of health and wellbeing issues. Anyone calling the service on 1800 377 700 can seek support anonymously.
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