Dentistry is very demanding profession & it drains the dentist as well as the staff completely every day. Before you can relax yourself, the next day is ready with the same routine. This continues for years together. Moreover, there is ever growing stress due to increasing competition, material cost, overheads, staff, patient related issues, diagnosis/treatment related issues & financial issues.

All these things leave you with no energy & enthusiasm when you go home. Many times, the same issues keep bothering you even when you are at home. This can severely damage the overall quality of life. The disturbance increases due to increased demands even at family front & that leave you totally helpless as far as balancing the work with family life. The worst part is, all these issues are going to grow bigger in the future & nobody would be spared from it.

Yes, never before there was urgent need to understand the work-life balance for a practicing dentist. The different surveys carried out in the western part of the world gives alarming signals about the severity of stress among the dental professionals.

Few statistics which are very shocking are as follows:-

The suicide rate of dentists is more than twice the rate of the general population and almost three times higher than that of other white collar workers.

Emotional illness ranks third in order of frequency of health problems amongst dentists, while in the general population it ranks tenth.

Coronary disease and high blood pressure are over 25% more prevalent among dentists than in the general population.

Dentists suffer psycho-neurotic disorders at a rate of 2 1/2 times greater than physicians.

The #1 killer of dentists is stress-related cardiovascular disease.

The dental profession in North America loses the numerical equivalent of one large dental school class each year.

The work-life balance seems to be the only solution to the situation dentists are facing in this 21st century. As per Wikipedia, the work-leisure dichotomy was invented in the mid-1800s. Paul Krassner remarked that anthropologists use a definition of happiness that is to have as little separation as possible “between your work and your play”. The expression “work–life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and personal life. In the United States, this phrase was first used in 1986. Although it is used in corporate routinely in India, we still have to adopt this as a concept to be followed among the professionals.

What exactly it is?
All over the years, many have tried to define work-life balance but there’s no specific definition of the same even now. Let’s understand few aspects of the same.

Work-life balance is not giving equal time for work & life or family. It is not possible practically and even if you do that, it would be counterproductive for you.

Work-life balance is not same on a daily basis. The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.

Work-life balance is not a standard formula that can be applied in the same way to everyone. It is obviously because everyone’s life is different with different set of priorities.

So finally, one must understand that work-life balance is basically a balanced maintained beautifully in four essential parts of life i.e. work, family, friends & yourself. It is all about achieving ‘success’ & being ‘happy’ in these four areas on a daily basis. Success & happiness are two sides of a coin and we all should find both in these four areas. You can’t be happy without being successful and neither can you be successful & be unhappy.

How to improve work-life balance?

One must remember that life will deliver the success and balance we desire …when we are achieving and enjoying something every single day…in all the important areas that make up our lives. If you unnecessarily try to get ‘too much – too soon’, it’ll surely add lot of stress in life which ultimately reduces the happiness & even the success. It is imperial to maintain a very fine balance in everything we do. Here are few tips that can help you in maintaining better balance in these four quadrants of life.

This is the key for the balance. One must learn to understand the more important thing from the lesser important one. The golden rule is to ‘Putting first thing first’. May be in work, family, friends or self, you must start giving highest priority to what is most important even on a daily basis e.g. Don’t overwork in clinic on the day of your birthday or anniversary. It sounds very obvious but many of us land up doing this mistake more often than not.

Whenever you sit for planning for the next few days or weeks or months, make sure that you certainly allot time for your family & friends and not only to your work. You must also give time to yourself while preparing your schedule. The best planner is always the ‘weekly planning’. Develop this habit of planning on a weekly basis consciously and most important is you MUST stick to your plan religiously and give full time allotted to anything for the same activity only.

3.Adding ‘value’:-
No matter in which of the four quadrants you are spending time in, you must make sure all the time that you are doing something useful & constructive that would have value addition for both-you as well as others. Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value for either of them. It should be completely avoided. You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realizing it.

4.Save time & energy:-
Many of us spend lot of time and energy in activities which are ‘not so fruitful’ or are ‘totally useless’ for us. Such activities must be minimized and you should concentrate more on useful acts always. Remember the rule of 80-20. Almost always the ‘80% of work is done in 20% of time’ or ‘20% of efforts yields 80% result for us’. Never forget this rule & start delegating many simpler or mechanical activities to others & you should only concentrate on things which are very useful and fruitful.

It’s hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate. Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert so no matter how busy you are, you must allot time to exercise and recharge yourself at least 4-5 days in a week. You should also find time to RELAX as it would rejuvenate yourself to the fullest. Nurture some hobby, read something good or little soothing music is enough to relax you physically as well as mentally.

No matter, who you are or what you do, always remember that BALANCE is the essence of spending a good life. Never forget that ‘Life is not measured by the number of breath you take but by the moments who took your breath away’. So start balancing everything & live life king-size!