How-To, Patient Care, Career

How To Survive The Day From Hell

By Melissa van der Werf, RDH, BS on October, 3 2018
How To Survive The Day From Hell
Melissa van der Werf, RDH, BS

Melissa has a strong foundation in educating hygienists and dentists on treating chronic periodontitis, implant maintenance, and implementing periodontal programs within a practice.

You don’t have to be in the dental field for long before you have one of those days where every patient needs more than just a little TLC. That’s the nice way of saying that every patient is high maintenance.

I was a hygienist for a hot minute before I started encountering these days. These days consist of patients where everything hurts, their dental anxiety is off the charts, they haven’t been in the office for years because of said dental anxiety and there is so much that needs to be accomplished, or they are just flat out rude.

Of course, you aren’t scheduled for enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. How can you handle this highly stressful and chaotic day? In one word, breathe.

Sounds simple, right?

In some ways it is, if you can remember to do it. We underestimate the power of deep breathing. A few deep breaths and blowing out the stress can actually calm you down and lower your body’s reaction to stress.

I will actually excuse myself from the op, run into the bathroom and take three deep breaths and blow out hard. If it’s a particularly bad day, I will even make some noise when breathing out! This relaxes my body and decreases the stress even if it is for a short period of time.

I would love to tell this makes the day smooth out, but it won’t. But it will decrease the fight or flight reaction that happens when we are stressed. This in turn will reduce fatigue and burnout by the end of the day.

Be sure to take care of yourself in a healthy manner when you get home, too. For me, a nice bubble bath and a few more deep breaths are my way to unwind and release the stress from dentistry. Dentistry is hard and dental hygiene has an even higher level of stress added in.

It is important that we find healthy ways to conquer all that we face in our operatories every day so we can have long and meaningful careers. The practice of deep breathing and self-care at home allows us to better manage stress from our days as dental health care providers.

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