Taking care of your mental health

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  Posted by: The Probe      23rd April 2021

We all know that the pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone. Indeed, for the majority of people it has resulted in a huge change to their way of life, not only during each national lockdown, but also during times when we were under the tier system.

However, one good outcome of the situation is that it has thrust the importance of mental health into the spotlight. A quick search online will reveal hundreds of articles about the impact that Covid-19 has had on people’s mental wellbeing. This can only be a very positive thing as it takes us all a few more steps closer to understanding exactly how significant mental health is in the modern day, and reiterates that we are all susceptible to conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The truth of the matter is, as dental professionals we often prioritise the mental health of our patients, but it’s not often that we put our own needs first. As such, it’s time to make sure that we are taking care of our mental health and doing all we can to avoid the harsh mental impact that this situation can cause.

Can we control our own mental health?

Unfortunately, mental health is not a black and white issue. Depression, anxiety and other issues can strike us even at the best of times, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something to help defend against developing these conditions.

Mental health is incredibly complex and, much like other conditions, people can suffer from different severities of depression or anxiety. We need to keep this in our minds, especially as what works as a mental boost for some people may not work for others.

Regardless, there are certain behaviours that have been proven to impact mental health, and these are the things we should all be aware of so that we are giving ourselves the best chance of remaining positive.

De-stress and avoid potentially harmful behaviour

One of the leading causes of clinical depression is a prolonged feeling of stress.[i] Of course, as we are all living through a highly stressful situation, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at some point is somewhat inevitable. What we need to do is fight back by minimising potential stress points wherever we can and preparing to reduce the impact that stress may have on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Make time for yourself. Carve out a couple of hours to read a book or go on a walk around your local area. It’s vital that your mind gets time to relax, even if that is just watching a comfort film, bingeing a TV show or indulging in one of your hobbies. It can be tough to find the opportunity to do this, but if you examine your daily routines you should be able to find little pockets of time where you can let you brain have a well-deserved break. Exercise too has been proven to help battle depression, so try to be active as much as possible even if this just means a quick home workout or some yoga in your living room.[ii]

Also, don’t be afraid to say no to commitments during this time if you feel like they are too much – it’s easy to take on the burden of others, but this can be far more damaging to your own mental health in the long run.

There are certain behaviours that should be avoided. Drinking alcohol, for example, has been linked to higher rates of people developing depression. As tempting as it is to pour yourself a big glass of red wine after a long work day, alcohol is a depressive substance so this could be more harmful than relaxing, especially if one glass often turns into two or three.

Connect with others

Another primary cause of depression and anxiety is loneliness.[iii] While unable to see and connect with family and friends in person, millions of people are feeling very lonely right now.[iv] Even though we are working and seeing patients, it can still feel like an isolated time for dental hygienists and dental therapists, especially as life right now has thrown off the work/life balance.

One way to help conquer these feelings is to actively seek out support, not only from friends but also within your profession. The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is here to help.

The BSDHT offers a great support network for dental hygienists and therapists, and provides members with a number of useful resources and contacts. These not only include professional resources to help you expand in your career, but an emotional safety net too, meaning that you always have someone to turn to whenever times are tough.

Remember your needs

In these hard times, it’s so easy to forget to prioritise your own mental health needs. However, in the long run this can be very harmful, so you need to ensure that you are getting the support and rest that you need. By joining a society of like-minded individuals, you can ensure you are never coping with these difficult times alone.

 

 For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk

 

[i] NHS. Clinical Depression Causes. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/ [Last accessed February 21].

[ii] NHS. Exercise for Depression. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/exercise-for-depression/ [Last accessed February 21].

[iii] NHS. Clinical Depression Causes. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/ [Last accessed February 21].

[iv] Mental health Foundation. Loneliness During Coronavirus. Link: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/loneliness-during-coronavirus [Last accessed February 21].


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