This week Dr. Odiatu is talking about a work-life balance. We all struggle to find that balance, but Dr. Odiatu has some great suggestions to help navigate that journey!
Dr. Odiatu is a practicing dentist, certified trainer, author, speaker, and repeat AToTH guest. He always brings us content that we can use to make us and our patients happy and healthy. Be sure to check out the many episodes with Dr. Uche and head over to our YouTube channel and watch the videos Dr. Uche and Michelle did to help you stretch and take care of your body!
Book: The Miracle of Health
For your viewing pleasure this TIPisode has been transcribed:
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: Quick and easy tips to keep you up to date, and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Uche Odiatu: Work-life balance basics. I’m Doctor Uche Odiatu. I love contributing to these TIPisodes because, in a nutshell, you can get a whole lot of information in a bite-size piece.
So work-life balance. We want the life of our dreams, which means a great career, well paying, working with a team that you love. At the same time, you want a home life, or you want friendships and family. You want a satisfying community life. You want stimulating friendships. You want great health and vitality. Is it possible? Or is it just the Holy Grail that will never actually be achieved?
The more I read about work-life balance, the more I see this — it is a myth because many of us aren’t in a place where we can actually go for the job we want because we’re tired. I believe there’s four fundamental principles — sleep, exercise, nutrition, and breath — and if any one of those four foundational pillars are off, it is impossible to enjoy the work or the family life or the friendships of your dreams.
If someone is sleep-deprived or if someone’s not getting the good, quality sleep that they need, if they’re going to bed too late, if they have apnea, if they’re snoring, if the room is too dark, if the room is too light, you will not be well-rested in the morning. You will not have spent the 100 minutes a night, which sleep scientists recommend that you have so you have good memory consolidation and emotional processing. And no matter how much you want to and you’re working with a great team, you love your team members, it is impossible. The saying is “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Having poor sleep means it is impossible to enjoy and contribute and enjoy a fulfilling job simply because you’re tired.
Any time you’re tired, it’s a challenge to have the discipline to not only enjoy the job or to work through lunch or to take on those extra projects that your team members want you to take but also when you get home from work after a busy day, you don’t have the energy to enjoy your friends or your family life. So having good quality of sleep is fundamental to work-life balance.
Number two, exercise. Less than ten percent of the population exercises on a regular basis, which means that they’re able to enjoy a pain-free body. They’re able to enjoy boundless energy. They’re able to enjoy good-working muscles and good aerobic capacity, which means they can actually say yes to their friends and go hiking on the weekend. They can actually stay a little longer at work simply because they have the energy. People who exercise have more energy than people who don’t exercise. People who exercise have better functioning immune systems. They don’t get sick as often, which means they’ll have less sick time.
So fundamental pillar two of going for the job that you want and being able to have the energy to enjoy your family life after is exercising on a regular basis. How much — I’m not a huge fan of intense workouts where people hit tractor tires with sledgehammers and heave engine blocks of cars across a parking lot. I think much of the dental industry life is pretty intense, and many of us are working hard all day, physically and emotionally. Sometimes the last thing you want when you get home is actually to have an intense workout. Paul Chek, one of my mentors out of San Diego, was recommending that if you have a busy work life, you might want to work in after hours or before work rather than work out. So we’re talking a peaceful, gentle workout like tai chi, like yoga, maybe some zumba, which I got recently licensed to instruct. So that’s my pillar two.
Number three, nutrition. If someone is eating poor-quality food, if someone’s eating a lot of processed carbs, if someone’s eating six meals a day, if someone’s never tried fasting, if someone eats emotionally to fill a void that they have, it is impossible to go for more. Your very brain, your immune system, your hormonal system, your neurotransmitters are all made from the food we eat. So, if we’re eating poor-quality food, poor-quality thoughts, poor-quality emotions. So I implore you to eat with some mindfulness. I implore you to eat with some functionality in mind.
Now, let’s talk about the three Fs. Food For Function. What kind of day I want. What kind of job am I doing? What kind of patients will I have today? How busy will I be tonight? How busy is my weekend? What do I need to eat as a lunch or a dinner item so I can have the energy for my friends after work?
Number four is breathing patters. O’Connor in 2010 in his research showed that almost 80 percent of people who have anxiety — and anxiety is simply just that higher levels of cortisol, that feelings of helplessness. They say one is six Americans feel it at any one point in the year anywhere from two weeks to four weeks — they will actually have dysfunctional breathing. If you have dysfunctional breathing, it means actually you’re breathing from your chest rather than your stomach, which puts you in a cortisol-dominant state or a sympathetic-nervous-system-dominant state, which is fight-or-flight. It’s really meant to last for one to two minutes to get you out of danger, not meant to spend your whole entire day in.
So, if someone has dysfunctional breathing patterns because they’re anxious, they will not be able to get oxygen to their brain, they’ll have poor neurotransmitters, they’ll have poor hormonal balance, and they won’t have the energy for the job of their dreams. They won’t have the energy of the family life after.
So, when I look at those four fundamental principles — sleep, exercise, nutrition, and breathing — I’m saying that these are the foundation. Abraham Maslow said in his hierarchy of human needs “You can’t go for more love.” You can’t go — you can’t contribute to your community unless your basement level — your fundamental level is taken care of. And he talked about food, shelter, feeling safe, staying hydrated, being well fed. Those are important.
And I’ve been through my own challenges. People always look at me and think that, you know, “Uche, it must be nice to be you.” However, a little over a year ago, my wife and I were separated. And, luckily, it’s amicable, but it’s been challenging. I don’t think it could have gone well over this past year unless I was taking care of myself, looking at my sleep, looking at my nutrition, looking at exercise, looking at how I’m breathing.
So behind closed doors there’s always challenges. We all have them. How do you stay bright and cheery for those patients who need 100 percent of you as you go through your own personal valleys? You got to stay high-energy, you got to stay current, and you got to stay available so you can definitely work [indiscernible 00:06:57] through a difficult treatment. That’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last year, and because it’s been amicable and because we’ve been going through it with being gentle with each other, it’s definitely worked out well. Sure it’s been trying, but with my foundational pillars, I’ve been able to maintain a good work-life balance.
This subject is important to me. I think — I did an article for a [sic] oral health group with an industry colleague that should be coming out sometime at the end of September if it hasn’t come out already, and that is “Work-life Balance.” And it’s actually for the new grad because new grads are pulled in so many different directions, right? I want to work six days a week. I want to pay off my student loan. I also want to make sure I have friends after to celebrate with me. I also want to go to bed on time. I also want to look great. I want energy for my continuing education. So, anyway, there’s an article that we wrote for the oral health group — it’s the national journal for dental hygienists in Canada.
So, if you want more of this information, if you enjoy what I’m sharing, my website is druche.com, or D-R-U-C-H-E.com. Fitspeakers is my Instagram name. It’s @Fitspeakers.
I welcome you to look for the Holy Grail, but at the same time, create a foundation so you can have a better chance of maintaining and getting that work-life balance of your dreams.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.