By: Savanah Craig
Burnout is becoming a more common topic in society in the last several years. With increased discussion of mental health concerns in doctoral programs, I feel like young physicians and dentists are more aware of burnout than the generations of doctors before them.
Feelings of burnout are described as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
While awareness of the phenomenon of Burnout is great, my current knowledge of the condition has left me feeling like Burnout is inevitable and unavoidable.
Dentists and Dental Students Face Stress
Dentists and Dental Students are no strangers to “excessive and prolonged stress” and many of our daily stressors are out of are control. It seems like the only option for avoiding Burnout is to retire from the profession before I’ve ever had a chance to start, but there is some recent research pointing to ways to reduce burnout in the medical profession.
While many strategies to help reduce Burnout can be undertaken by the individual doctor, it is important to realize that systemic change is required to see a greater reduction in the experience stress and burnout in our medical profession.
Reslience Helps Reduce Stress and Burnout
It has been found that increased resilience reduces the experience of stress and burnout.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from toughness. Overtime, our ability to remain resilient can diminish due to increased stress, difficulty circumstances, and life events. This makes sense when things start piling up and the smallest inconvenience breaks us down. When too many hard things are happening at once, our ability to be resilient diminishes if we can’t rest and care for ourselves.
Thankfully, we can now point to the 9 Dimensions of Wellness as a way to look at our overall wellbeing so that we can have more energy to be resilient and prevent burnout.
The 9 Dimensions of Wellness
The 9 Dimensions of Wellness are:
Let’s look at an example for each of these Dimensions of wellness:
Taking your daily medications as prescribed, and drinking more water.
Mindfulness practices, and reaching out to a professional if you need help.
Going to a theater production, or coloring in an adult coloring book.
Doing your dishes instead of piling them in the sink.
Learning how to budget effectively, and planning for your student loans.
Setting and achieving your career goals, dreaming of your ideal work/life balance.
Finding hobbies that bring you joy outside of your profession, reading for fun.
Connecting with your friends outside of social media, write letters to your college roommate.
Use journaling to figure out your true purpose and how to feel fulfilled in your life’s work.
Use the 9 Dimensions of Wellness to Help You Manage Stress & Burnout
It can be overwhelming to look at that list and wonder how you could possibly add anything more to your To-Do list – but tending to your 9 dimensions of wellness does not have to take a lot of time or effort.
The focus of this tool is to ensure you are balanced and that you are focusing (at least a small bit of energy) on each of these areas of your life.
Most people are aware of the importance of physical wellness, but perhaps you could shorten one of your exercises a week to make time to organize your finances.
Perhaps you’re a very social person and involved in many clubs, but your room is so chaotic that its causing you stress. You may need to step back from one of your social engagements and take an afternoon to look after your environment.
The 9 Dimensions of wellness can be used as a tool to evaluate the balance of your life. Having a more balanced lifestyle can promote resiliency and decrease burnout.
Photo by Mateusz Dach