Practical tips by Dr Bethany Rushworth: stress management
Dr Bethany Rushworth, an award-winning dentist with numerous scientific publications, has been focusing on the personal development of dentists for years. Her several years of coaching experience allow her to look at everyday dentistry from an exciting perspective. In this blog series, she talks about her experience and gives you an exclusive insight into her work to help you with your professional development.
In this blog Dr Bethany Rushworth explains how she deals with stress in her day-to-day business.
Put it in the diary
For me, this has two meanings. First of all, if I have something I need to get done, I write it in my diary. Having everything written down in one place takes a load off my mind as I’m not worrying that I will forget to do something. I regularly go through my list and rearrange it based on what is my biggest priority. I am realistic and accept that I can only get so much done each day or week and move the lower priority tasks down the list. The other way I use my diary is to schedule in time for myself. Whether this is doing nothing, having a massage or going for a walk, this is protected time and I try to take it as seriously as if I had something else booked in for that time. If I allowed every bit of available space to be filled I would never have any time for me, and when this happens I know from experience that I end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.
Learn when to say no
When trying to build a brand, reputation/name for yourself or business, inevitably you won’t have the luxury to turn down work or opportunities. That being said, it is important to regularly reassess what you are saying yes and no to and whether these are contributing to the bigger picture and goal you have. In saying this, I don’t mean only do things that benefit you. But if you are feeling swamped, write down all of your outstanding tasks and commitments and decide whether all of these need to continue. If I say yes to something, I always give my best; therefore, as the projects I’ve become involved with have got bigger and more time consuming, I have had to be very careful about how much I agree to do in order to avoid compromising on the quality of my output for the sake of quantity and fear of saying no. I would rather do one thing brilliantly than three things poorly.
Notes by bed/when you get home
Something that really helps me keep my stress under control is to write down a to-do list each night before I go to sleep. I summarise everything I need to get done the next day and I also make a note of anything consuming me or on my mind. Once I have written it down I feel relaxed knowing that I won’t forget to do it, and I force myself to have the mindset that once it’s on the list it is there to be dealt with the next day, not in my head at 11 o’clock at night!
Mindfulness apps such as Headspace and Calm
Over the past few months I have been using mindfulness apps almost daily. In particular when I’m trying to sleep, I find that my mind wanders to all the things I need to organise or work on, so using a guided meditation or relaxation activity forces me to take a moment to unwind and has had a noticeable effect on the quality of my sleep. When using these apps on my phone at bedtime, I ensure the brightness on my screen is turned right down and I avoid unlocking the screen as much as possible as the light just wakes me back up – even on night mode!
I have always found exercise a brilliant way to keep stress levels under control. Personally, I enjoy high-intensity, fast-paced workouts which don’t give me much time to think about anything else other than how challenging the session is! This isn’t sustainable every day, but if I am feeling particularly in need of an escape I will book a class at my local studio boot camp gym. I also find some music (either headphones or in a class environment) helps me to clear my head and I never regret a workout. There are plenty of short and effective free exercise tutorials online so even if you can’t make it to a gym, it’s likely you have access to the internet at home and can stick your trainers on for a quick 20 minutes.
Rule of fives
My final key piece of advice for keeping stress under control is my rule of fives. If something is bothering me, I think about how long this particular issue or incident will affect me for. Will this still be bothering me in five years? Five months? Weeks…days…hours? This allows me to keep things in perspective and enables me to allocate a proportional amount of brain space to it! A simple example would be road rage – will someone honking their horn at me still be upsetting me in five hours? Probably not, therefore it is definitely not worth being upset about at all! I have learnt to accept that my initial feelings or thoughts towards a situation are unlikely to change, but the way I respond to these and how much I let them consume me can be worked on and is significantly under my control. Have a read of Prof. Steve Peter’s book ‘The Chimp Paradox’. It is a similar concept regarding initial reaction/response and more considered responses following from this, but my rule of five allows the considered response to be rational and proportional!
Learn more about goal setting in our next blog entry.
Dr. Bethany Rushworth
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