The Future is Female and Boy, is She Stressed Out.  

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I think we can all agree that we want girls to grow up to be brave instead of perfect, to feel beautiful for being smart and strong and to be inspired by other women. We want them to have role models and opportunities. We want them to take care of themselves, physically and mentally. Right?

Right.

Yet as we look at the dental industry - an industry I have worked in for many years - the statistics tell us we need to make sure we walk our talk. With over 50% of dentists and 90% of dental hygienists being female, the role models are here. It’s time to make sure we continue to focus on women’s health. These women, including me and many of you, are stressed out, maxed out and freaking out. We are mothers and sisters and our to-do lists are over burdened with caring for others in addition to our high-pressure jobs. Why is all this important? When we as health care practitioners are healthy and well, we can show up as our best selves at work, taking better care of those who depend on us, providing better care.

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I woke this morning to the Oregon blue skies of this amazing fall morning and as I sat to read my emails, I smiled with gratitude at all the good news I continue to receive. I am getting invited more and more to speak about women’s health and tools for stress relief at dental and health industry conferences. This tells me that these organizations are seeing the value in empowering women who work in their industries with vital information.

Women’s health means the practice of women’s SELF CARE; physically, mentally and emotionally. I speak on topics that help professional women (and the men who love them) learn more about how important it is to take care of ourselves! It is paramount if we want to have longevity in our professions and be our best selves for our patients and our families.

In one of my more popular courses, Martinis and Menopause, we get real about the many changes the female body goes through as we age. From puberty, to pregnancies, peri-menopause and beyond there are unique conditions presented to women both mentally and physically. Even our oral health can be affected. Knowledge is power and by incorporating simple self-care strategies into our lives, women can slay that hormone groan and rejuvenate our sense of purpose. The truth is this: All women have the power to feel better and live better.  

In Oxygen, Please, I explore how in today’s fast -paced, overstressed world, those of us who professionally care for the health and well-being of others often place ourselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to self-care. Everyone else’s needs come before our own; both at work and at home. The adage of “patient first” has unintentionally created an environment in health care that places the practitioner last. It makes no sense and often leads to personal and professional burn-out. What if we spin this practice on its head? Practitioner first. My own physical and mental well-being first. Place the oxygen mask on myself first. This recent quote from Wendy Mason, PhD out of Perdue University says it best: “We've got to be advocates not only for our patients, but for ourselves.” Indeed, we do.

As we look to the future of the workers in our health care industries, a future that is filled with stressed out women, we want to be sure we are supporting those women to live their best lives. We want ALL people to feel great, show up refreshed and ready to go both at home and at work. By practicing self-care, women can better serve their families, their practices, and most importantly, themselves.  I am encouraged by the changes organizations are making to provide us with the information we need to grow, and I’m proud to work alongside them to be a conduit for that knowledge.

It is good news for all of us, friends.

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Kelli Jaecks