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Mind Your Business Personal Wellbeing Supporting Your Practice

Defining and Coping with Stress in the Dental Office


Illona McLay, high-team performance and dental business coach, spoke with Dr. Chiraz Guessaier about stress management in the dental office. 

To contact Illona, please click here

Link to Dr. Steve Peter’ book: The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness


Dr. Illona McLay speaks to Dr. Chiraz Guessaier about her presentation at the Scottish Dental Conference titled, “Control Your Chimp, Check, Challenge, Change Your Behaviour to Reduce the Stress in Your Life”.

Dental practitioners universally feel stressed about running their dental businesses. As an example, in Britain, dentists balance running their private practice with their NHS contracts. Stress may stem from various sources:

• Dental team management
• Patient management
• Management of relationships with government, insurance or regulatory bodies
• Maintaining a profitable business entity

Stress can manifest differently in people but usually there are physicological, psychological and behavioural symptoms of stress. Similarly, coping mechanisms vary from individual to individual but can include a range of behaviours from “silence to violence” as well as addiction and substance abuse.

Physiological Gastric problems, anxiety, headaches, back pain
Psychological Resistance to change, feeling marginalized and criticized, apathy,
Behavioural Team dynamics may not be working

Humans have certain mind traps which cause our emotional “chimp” to behave in particular ways such as catastrophizing, personalizing, black-and-white thinking. The “check, challenge, change” technique helps us to reduce our stress as well as cope with it.

Recognize how you feel under stress and what causes it so we can control our emotions and not pass our stress on to our colleagues and loved ones. It is important to recognize that heavy workloads create stresses. Multi-tasking, while common, is actually less efficient than focusing on a task at a time. Proper diet, hydration (sugar and caffeine intake) and nutrition are undervalued when team members are busy.
Checking involves looking at ways to control and measure or score ourselves in these areas over time.

Challenge the behaviours that can lead us to being stressed by putting some safeguards in place.

Reflect on these behaviours and then make minor changes to our work and life to make ourselves more resilient to stress.


Watch the video conversation


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