"I dread going into my office. There's no fun in it, and people are there just to collect a paycheck."
This quote from a doctor sounds like most of the practitioners I talk with every day. Work has turned into a daily grind, which adds to the pressure, stress, and thoughts that have you doubting that you made the right career choice. There is one surefire cure for thinking/feeling/seeing dentistry as a daily grind, and that is to have more fun at work.
We think fun and humor are a natural occurrence in life. Reality check: They're not. There's a level of expectation and desire for life to be fun and exciting, so it's easy to become frustrated with work and relationships when they turn into the dreads and doldrums.
Just like romance in a relationship or success for a business, fun and humor take intention, planning, some prep work, and daily nurturing.
Modern technology has allowed researchers to document the chemical, biological, and physiological benefits of laughter. Here are just a few of the more well-documented benefits:
- Relieves physical tension and relaxes the whole body
- Boosts the immune system
- Triggers the release of endorphins; endorphins give a sense of well-being and are the body's natural feel-good chemicals
- Protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow
- Increases oxygen intake throughout the entire body, which energizes muscles and stimulates organs
- Decreases blood sugar levels by stimulating the endocrine system
- Reduces pain receptors, allowing for pain-free treatments
- Gives a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, and back muscles -- who needs the gym?
- Lowers stress hormone levels such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increases alertness, creativity, and memory
10 ideas to get started
It doesn't take much effort to thread more humor into your practice, but it does take a bit of planning. Here are a few ideas to help you continue to be the professional you are while also gaining the advantages of laughter:
- Start every huddle with a joke everyone can enjoy. Invite your team to participate and bring a joke each day.
- Subscribe to YouTube channels that are motivational, inspirational, and funny.
- Buy daily calendars with jokes on them, the kind you peel off each day. Place them in each area of your practice. Change it up so that there is a different calendar in each area. Don't let the team throw away the really funny ones. Tack them up on a bulletin board or place several of them around your office.
- Encourage your team to be sillier in the office -- laughter is contagious.
- Make silly team videos -- you can find examples on YouTube and elsewhere -- and post them to your office's Facebook page. Dentists often want their patients to see them as serious, professional doctors. Any patient would rather spend an hour with a doctor who engages them and makes them laugh than with one who is dry and formal.
- Encourage your team to wear scrubs with printed images on them, funny t-shirts, or silly outfits (on special days). If you don't think that is also great marketing, then we need to talk.
- Play family-friendly comedies in your office.
- Laugh at yourself. If you laugh at things you do, then you give permission for others to laugh as well.
- Look for the funny. When you intentionally look for humorous situations, they start appearing everywhere. Then share the funny stories, when appropriate, with your patients.
- Hang out with funny people and share their stories. If you're not naturally funny, find someone who is.
Make it a goal to start threading in more humor. Get your calendar out, do some research, and add the jokes you are going to tell, videos to watch, movies to play, and themes you will use. If this seems daunting, delegate it to the person with the largest funny bone in the office. He or she will love the project, and everyone will benefit from less stress.
Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners and has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency training for more than 25 years. Learn about her services at her website, or contact her at jen@JenButlerPartners.com.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.