After experiencing burnout herself, Amber Ojak details the methods she uses to help recover and move forwards.
Many of us in the dental sector recently have been discussing burnout. Whether we have experienced this ourselves, or known others who have.
Last year was one hell of a year. And with the back log of patients to juggle, as well as the ongoing situation, it is easy to get lost in this.
Personally I have really struggled over summer with burnout and started to feel like there was no light at the end of this tunnel. But I found a few things that helped me get out of that level.
Learning to say no
Sometimes it is easy to get onboard the ‘yes train’. I know I have been guilty of taking on a lot of projects when I only have a certain amount of energy in me.
My biggest ask over the last few months has been to admit when I need to take a step back and say no. This isn’t a ‘no’ that will last forever; it’s a ‘no’ to giving it my full attention at that moment in time.
Speaking to many other professionals, we can all learn to turn things down if we are a bit worn out, and not feel guilty about it.
At the end of the day, it is better to rest and bounce back than do things half-heartedly and not deliver the full package.
Switching off from social media
During lockdown so many of us, including myself, turned to social media and built up our followers.
It is easy to get sucked into the social media world and not know when to switch off from this. I was spending too many hours on apps such as Instagram, growing my feed and my connections with other professionals.
As we have gradually got back into the work routine, I find I do not have as much time to come up with new ideas to post. As well as trying to treat my patients to the best of my ability.
Social media was a big aid in getting me through lockdown. But I have gradually learnt it is definitely not what matters!
I am now ‘disciplined’ to limit my time on social media and feel so much mentally lighter from it. I am able to stop thinking about what I need to post next. And who I need to respond to so that I can fully switch off.
Embrace the natural environment
Burnout made me exhausted mentally and physically. I was used to walking 10,000 steps a day. But I found I couldn’t even keep up this routine.
I wanted to start focusing on the outdoors in a way that helped me feel calm.
Because we were not able to go abroad and really travel until next year, I decided to start utilising the beaches around me in Scotland. I started going for walks on local beaches. As well as going into the sea, which was surprisingly warm due to the nice weather. I forgot how going and standing in the sea, just made me feel a level of calm that I have not felt for a while. It was truly wonderful.
Things are not forever
It is easy to feel that burnout may not go away. But finding small things that can help is a great starting point.
It is understandable how burnout can make you feel like you are on you own. But start talking about it. This will help us all realise that most people have been going through it to a greater or lesser extent.
Hopefully this time next year, things will look even brighter and we might all find that we can resume some normality in our sector.
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