Dental hygiene is a field that can be very stressful at times. You have to focus on your patients' needs while balancing a busy schedule and coping with the physical demands of the job. According to a survey from RDH eVillage, more than 50% percent of dental hygienists feel stressed by their jobs on a daily or weekly basis.
Often, it's easy to forget about your own needs until stress manifests itself as burnout. As a dental hygienist, you know prevention is key — it's true for managing your stress levels, too. Use these helpful tips on how to relax after work to help yourself decompress and re-energize for the next workday.
1. Take Time Out for Yourself
When thinking about how to relax after work, your first concern may be how to find the time. This may seem like a challenge, but even taking a few minutes for yourself will help. For example, before driving home, take a moment to sit in your car and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and picture your stress melting away. Enjoy the quiet.
Visualization is another technique. You begin by releasing your negative thoughts and filling your mind with images that give you positive thoughts. Leave the stress of work at the office so that you can make the most of your time away.
2. Let the Housework Wait
Dental hygienists can be perfectionists not only at work, but also at home. You may find yourself diving into housework immediately and not giving yourself any time to reboot when you get home. Life can certainly be demanding: dinner may need to be cooked, kids may need to be bathed and laundry may need to get done. After a tough day, though, try giving yourself a break from one or two responsibilities or asking for help. For example, pick up some to-go dinner on the way home. With the time you'll save, you can find some time for yourself.
3. Vent Your Frustrations
Talking to a family member or friend can be an effective way to decompress and release your stress. Almost half of dental hygienists in the RDH eVillage survey found confiding in others helpful. When someone you trust understands your concerns and supports you, frustrations may begin to melt away.
It can also be helpful to write down your frustrations. This technique helps you think about what you could have done to make your day go more smoothly, such as using stress management techniques and identifying potential problems ahead of time. Then praise yourself for the great job that you did. Finally, do your best to forget about your stressful workday and let it go.
4. Get Some Exercise
This may seem like the opposite of what you want to do at first, but exercise provides a good distraction from a rough workday and can make you feel more relaxed afterwards. Start out by getting into some comfortable clothes and take some water along so that you can stay hydrated. Taking the dog for a walk or going on a short bike ride is a simple way to incorporate exercise into your evening routine without overdoing it. If you can't get outside, try doing some yoga or light stretches to relieve your tension, wherever you can find a bit of open space.
5. Make Sure to Get a Full Night's Rest
Catching up on sleep can make a world of difference. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get seven to nine hours of sleep. Using some of the tips listed above can help you feel relaxed and ready for bed. A good night's sleep should help renew your body so that you're fully prepared for the next day of dental hygiene work.
- Take a few minutes for yourself to hopefully decrease your stress level.
- Give yourself a break from housework if you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
- Vent your frustrations to a loved one or in a notebook to help you let go of the day's tensions.
Why It's Important
To stay motivated as a dental hygienist, it is crucial to focus on your own needs in addition to the needs of others. When you take time out to relax after work, it will leave you feeling restored and ready for another productive day.