Simon says: how to balance life with dentistry

Simon Chard discusses balance between your passion for dentistry with the rest of your life

Simon Chard shares his tips for finding a balance between your passion for dentistry and health, wellbeing and enjoyment in the rest of your life.

I always find it interesting when people talk about establishing a ‘good work-life balance’. This implies that work is the negative part of the equation. However, if you are passionate about work, it doesn’t feel like work. It can be easy to get swallowed up by the insular world that we live in as dentists, but this can lead to burnout and poor mental health. 

I think that too many clinicians attach their personality and ego solely to being a dentist. But what happens if something goes wrong at work and the practice is not the sanctuary it once was? What if they lose the ability to be a dentist? 

I love dentistry and am passionate about my patients, my team, my business and my role in creating a better future for the profession. But I am much more than just a dentist. I’m also a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a gym enthusiast. 

For me, I focus on gratitude for my family because this is most important to me, and ensuring enough time is spent with them is what stabilises every other aspect of my life. 

It is important to remember that we are all much more than just dentists, and if we can balance our priorities in a healthy way, we are likely to be better clinicians and more successful in life. 


I would encourage all colleagues to look at the time they spend doing different activities throughout a normal day or week. Include hours spent working, with family or friends, exercising, participating in hobbies or passions, and doing whatever is necessary to meet your religious, spiritual or mental wellbeing needs. 

If you’re overloaded by work, re-prioritise. You can’t be your best as a dentist if you are not healthy. Be pragmatic and make changes before you really start to suffer.

I have certain non-negotiables when it comes to my wellbeing, and they are exercise, nutrition and sleep. 

Exercise, nutrition, sleep

For the former, I like to get a workout done before work. Saying you don’t have time to exercise suggests you don’t value it enough to make time – I don’t get up at 5am for no reason! 

You just have to build time into your daily routine to get your body physically moving. Not only is this great for mental health, but there is a myriad of long-term health benefits to enjoy, such as disease prevention. 

I have also found that being consistent with strengthening exercises has eliminated the back pain I used to experience at work, which is another way in which my life as a dentist has improved.

Regarding nutrition, you have to fuel your body well if you want it to perform well. There are many dogmas around nutrition, lots of fad diets and a massive amount of conflicting information in the media. 

I choose to focus on eating whole, natural foods as much as possible, getting as close as I can to how the food came out of the earth and avoiding anything processed. I also supplement with vitamin D, omega 3 and multi-green supplements. You just have to find what works for you and try not to overcomplicate it. 

Finally, many people would argue that sleep is the most important for mind and body functionality. I track mine using a wearable device and aim for eight hours a night, ensuring a minimum of seven. I structure my day so I can get to sleep early enough to get up early the next morning. 

Help yourself first

There may be other activities that you wish to incorporate into your routine, and this is simply a case of structuring your day accordingly. 

For example, I do a 15-minute meditation at lunchtime as often as I can. This helps me to reset for the afternoon, maintaining my mood and mental health. 

In turn, all of this means I’m better prepared to engage with patients and help those who are anxious, to manage my team who might be stressed, and to deliver often complex dentistry. You have to put on your own oxygen mask on a plane before helping others – the same applies to the wellbeing of dental practitioners. 

Though this might seem like a lot on paper, the routine makes it fairly straightforward to do everything I need to do each day to look after myself. It takes self-discipline, but finding balance is worth it for your physical and mental wellbeing – and ultimately your career as a dentist. 

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