WRITTEN FOR: ADIA & PM NEWSLETTER
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and rhythm as
you move through the next moments of life and the next.” Thomas
1. Do you feel overwhelmed?
2. Have you recently experienced a period of weight gain or loss?
3. Are you tired when you wake up? Do you have difficulty falling asleep or
wake in the night unable to return to sleep?
4. Do you feel irritated, angry, and impatient?
5. Do you experience headaches, back pain, or gastrointestinal disturbances?
6. Do you feel resentment toward family or office team?
7. Do you need to have an “adult beverage” to sleep or unwind?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you can consider yourself a
“normal” stressed out American. Look around you at the number of stressed out
people – talking on cell phones, honking horns, frowning, etc. The American
Institute of Stress notes that 75%-90% of visits to primary care physicians are
for stress related complaints. IF you have multiple yes responses, it’s time to
As females, society has socialized us to be caretakers without teaching how to
take care of ourselves FIRST. Statistically speaking, daughters, mothers,
grandmothers, and wives provide four-fifths of the unpaid care giving in the
United States. We are in a helping profession. We care for our patients under
stressful situations - anxious patients, keeping on schedule, etc. The demands
of the office combined with our personal life can lead us into unhealthy behaviors
IF we don’t create balance.
Try these suggestions for improved balance in your life.
1. Allow quiet time each day just for YOU. 78% of adults say they wish
they had more time to stop and smell the roses. We all need down time
to disconnect from people. This may be a 15-30 minute early morning
“me time”, a quiet retreat alone during lunch, or after work prior to facing
the demands of home. Place a Do Not Disturb sign on your bedroom door
and teach your family to respect your quiet time.
2. Practice Gratitude. When you express gratitude and appreciation, your
brain cannot be stressed at the same time. Instead of sending out
messages of martyrdom, resentment, or cynicism, try this simple exercise.
Upon waking, give thanks for another new day – it’s better than the
alternative! As you walk through your home take a moment to appreciate
special things in your home, the aroma of fresh coffee and the hug of
your pet, and/or loved one. Upon arriving at the office, focus on what
you appreciate, rather than dreading that one undesirable task or patient
scheduled. Generously give compliments. Few people feel appreciated.
Watch the magic when you express appreciation.
3. Delegate. In the U.S., women work 76-89 hours a week, including
housework, childcare, and employment. It may seem easier to “just do it
myself”. Efficiency is highly overrated! From the toddler to teenager daily
contributions to an efficient running home can be developed together.
That means you may have to be tolerant of towels being folded
“incorrectly”. Housekeeping police are only a myth. We may have to
become more tolerant of someone performing a task less efficiently than
we do at the office to reduce stress and resentment.
4. Exercise. According to the Surgeon General 30 minutes of aerobic
activity a day can lengthen our lives, control stress, reduce excess body
fat, and improve sleep. AND, it doesn’t have to be done at the same
time. If you can connect with nature while exercising, you have the added
component of connecting spiritually with mother earth. Feel, touch,
breathe, and smell what is around you.
5. Laugh! Find humor in something everyday. Laughter improves oxygen
flow and creates endorphins.
6. BREATHE. Hold a pleasant thought in your mind. Place your hands on
your belly and slowly inhale to a count of 7 while your belly expands.
Hold for 4 seconds and slowly exhale for a count of 8 while your abdomen
collapses. Once you become aware of deep breathing, be aware of your
breathing throughout the day. Breathing deeply reduces muscle tension,
heart rate, and blood pressure.
In conclusion, I leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes.
1. “Permitting your life to be taken over by another person is like letting the
waiter eat your dinner”. (Vernon Howard)
2. “Only you can make your mind up! You’re the one and only one!” (Dr.
Finally, if all else fails – hire a housekeeper!
About the Author: Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, M.A., M.A. is the founder of
Professional Development Association, Inc. and Professor of Dental Hygiene at
Ferris State University in Michigan. She is an active member of the ADIA & PM
and has served as an advisory board member, lecturer, and contributing author.
She is recognized internationally for her inspiring lectures and journal articles
that help people improve their personal performance. She considers herself a
former stress junkie and a stress survivor.
This article is an overview of a lunch and learn session presented in February at
the ADIA & PM Winter Symposium in San Diego, CA.