Finding the balance between your professional and personal life is extremely important.

Dentistry is challenging, but on a whole, it is a wonderful career that offers many opportunities. Dentists are typically go-getters. It is competitive to get into dental school, and many dentists need a business mindset to run a practice. Professional goals are constantly being set, but what about personal goals? Sometimes it seems dentists put their personal life on hold because they are constantly managing their business responsibilities and patient care.

Dentists, like every other healthcare professional, need to develop an effective work-life balance so their personal life can thrive. Your mental and systemic health are equally important, if not more important, as any career goals you will ever have. How can you, as a general dentist or pediatric dentist, reduce your stress while enjoying and appreciating your daily life?

1. Take time for yourself and your goals.

Dentists sometimes spend more time at the office than at home. It is easy to get caught up with office responsibilities because the truth is they never stop. There are always patients to see, claims to file, administrative tasks to handle, and staff to manage. But you need to carve time out for yourself and your family and friends.

Plan your time off in advance so you won’t feel pressured to be in the office all the time. Whether you take a vacation or spend some quality time with family, you need to make living a healthy personal life a priority. The happier you feel outside the office, the more positive your attitude will be in the office so you can motivate yourself and your staff.

2. Invest in a hobby

The older we get, the less time we make for ourselves. Remember when you used to enjoy athletics, playing an instrument, or simply reading a good book? Having interests outside of dentistry is healthy and can help reduce stress. A hobby is an outlet just for you. It is a chance to invest in yourself and create a more well-rounded, higher quality of life.

3. Diversify your career options.

Sometimes, after many years in private practice, you need to find an alternative career option. Dentists have to find skills outside of their clinical practice, and this can include becoming a dental instructor or volunteer worker. Some prefer contributing to dental public health, but regardless of what area you choose to explore, it can help give you a new perspective in dentistry. Many dentists have a good understanding of how a hobby like yoga can both relax and stretch a person, which can benefit someone personally and professionally. When you find your niche, it will deliver much personal growth.

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Every person can always benefit from staying healthy. Exercise, a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting a good amount of sleep can all help your systemic and mental health. You need to make your health a priority. In dentistry, we are always there to care about others’ oral and overall health, but if we don’t maintain our own, we cannot be there for our patients. Dentists sometimes slack on keeping themselves healthy while always recommending good habits for others. Try to avoid tobacco products, reduce alcohol consumption, and stay away from unhealthy foods. Putting your health first will always benefit you in the long term.

5. Seek professional help when you need it.

General and pediatric dentists can gain much insight from speaking to a mental health professional about positive coping skills and stress management. There are numerous studies that show the demanding nature of the dental occupation and how work stress may have a negative effect on a dentist’s psychological well-being and family life. You can work on your personal goals to give you a clear perspective on what type of work-family balance you desire.

Dentistry is a highly demanding career and oftentimes becomes a priority over other important things. While you may be clear on your professional goals, you want to utilize the tools available to you so you can set personal goals that create a well-balanced work life.