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Tips for Improving Personal and Team Wellbeing | Wellness Wednesdays

We have emerged out of the heavy fog created by Covid-19, and while this intense respiratory disease is still affecting thousands of people daily, for most of us we have returned to work and to our “normal.”  It is a good idea as we begin to enter the fall season to prepare ourselves to be at our optimal wellness to tackle all of the seasonal illness that affect us physically and mentally.

In an article by Carolyne Crowe published for In Practice out of London in September of 2020; Crowe asks some simple questions.

‘Have you had a good day at work?’ It is an easy enough question, but how would you answer it today? What might make you answer the question differently, and do you find that your good days at work are purely down to chance?

When we understand and help to implement practical ways that we can help ourselves and our teams have more good days at work is essential for productivity and wellbeing.  Crowe goes on to suggest creating a green zone. She developed a performance wheel of sorts. Think of a gas gauge in your car. But instead of Empty, Half, or Full it reads Disengaged (slow progress), Having a good day (Peak Performance) and Overwhelmed (heading downward). This human performance curve or gauge is an effective tool for initiating conversations with individuals and teams about their experiences at work.

This is a great way to let others know how stressed you may be feeling even if you work from home.

When we are in the ‘green zone’, at peak performance, it implies that the pressure we are under matches our mental and physical resources, and as a result we feel focused and motivated. We have the energy and skills to perform the tasks at hand and we feel supported to stretch ourselves to try new things.

Crowe posits that spending as much time as we can in the green zone is important for many reasons; if we are feeling good and performing well as individuals and as teams, we will deliver better patient outcomes and improved customer service. Happy, healthy, and connected people have greater wellbeing and are more productive at work. Simply put, if we all have more good days at work, it will be better for us, our patients, our business, and the profession.

Let’s break this down!

What makes a good day for you… here are some of the responses from the study by Crowe.

  • Feeling like you’ve made a difference/have helped someone else;
  • Learning something new;
  • Being comfortably busy/not being overbooked;
  • Grateful clients/good patient outcomes;
  • Having time for lunch/a break/exercising or socializing after work;
  • Feeling supported and refreshed;
  • Teaching students;
  • Having interesting cases;
  • Getting good feedback from a manager/your team;
  • Discussing cases with colleagues so you feel reassured with the next course of action;
  • Having time to finish a cup of tea/slice of cake!
  • Work/life balance;
  • Patient outcomes; and
  • Personal development.

People often associate having a good day with feeling like they’ve been productive and efficient, have achieved something new or have ticked items off their to-do list.

Take a few minutes to think about what makes a good day in practice for you and then note this down. Be specific and include factors that affect your time before work and when you get home. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What does a good day look and feel like for me?
  • Roughly what percentage of my time do I spend in my ‘green zone’?
  • What would happen if I had more good days?

 

 

What stops you from having a good day

Now you know what a good day looks like, take a moment to think about what stops you from having one. Take another look at the model in Fig 1. If you’re in the ‘red zone’, you’re feeling out of control; this is recognized as stress and will eventually result in the state of burnout. This could be caused by something specific, like snapping a tooth root during a dental procedure, or just feeling completely overwhelmed by the tasks required of you.

Conversely, in the ‘grey zone’ you’re lacking motivation and feel disengaged and disheartened; you know what you should be doing but perhaps there doesn’t feel like there’s much point. For example, you may have days filled with lots of routine visits which might lead you to feel bored and lack stimulation to grow. The grey zone can also sometimes be the result of chronic stress – you want to care, but you don’t have the mental or physical energy to do so.

It is important to consider factors that could tip you into either of these negative zones and learn how to manage them.

Common stressors

Challenges will vary depending on the type of practice you are in and the position you hold, but when people are asked what they find challenging about practice, some of the most common stressors identified are:

  • Overbooking the diary.
  • ‘Can you just…’ demands from team members.
  • Client complaints or rude clients.
  • Not having time for breaks or lunch.
  • Difficult conversations with colleagues or clients.
  • Long drives between calls.
  • Other team members being in a bad mood.
  • People not doing what they had been told to do.
  • Making a mistake; and
  • Leaving work late.

Everyone experiences these stressors at work, and although they can feel overwhelming at times, some things are just out of your control.

Crowe further explains in the article the importance of recognizing when individuals and teams are under pressure, practice how to break the cycle and ease pressure by offering to help when case loads seem heavy and be proactive and encouraging team members.

Tips for thriving at work

Tips for improving wellbeing in practice include:

  • Prioritize sleep and practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Eat a balanced diet and remain hydrated.
  • Take regular, short breaks throughout the day.
  • Get outside at least once a day.
  • Try to build exercise into your daily routine (whatever type works best for you).
  • Have technology-free downtime every day to relax and recharge your mind.
  • Be purposeful – know what’s important to you and work towards it.
  • Build and actively maintain personal and professional relationships that support, challenge and nurture you.
  • Set and manage expectations with others and check in with your expectations of yourself.
  • Be assertive – be honest and open about what you want and what is important to you.
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