A light at the end of the tunnel
A light at the end of the tunnel
Dawn Woodward reveals how to find the positives in the new normal
It is safe to say that people are now much more aware of their health than they were at the start of 2020.
Recent events brought the importance of personal hygiene, health and wellbeing to the fore. They have forced people to reflect on their lives, while making changes to their daily routines and their approach to nearly everything they do.
Encouraging positive habits
While we will be thankful when this all comes to pass – and things return to how they were or at least move into a 'new normal' – there are some messages that we should encourage people to remember.
For example, effective hand-washing protocols are a must for everyone, helping to protect vulnerable people from life-threatening illnesses that others are normally less affected by or aware of.
The emphasis on exercising every day is another healthy habit that much of the population took up during lockdown measures – and that many would benefit from continuing.
Whether it’s a run or a walk around the local neighbourhood, getting outside and moving is a very positive behaviour that will go some way to improving the general health of the nation.
Keeping the conversation going
Physical health may have been the focus of late, but conversations about psychological wellbeing have also taken place.
Prolonged confinement to a single building – either while managing around family members, or coping alone – could have had a significant impact on many individuals. Add to this the stress of worrying about the health of loved ones, loss of income and future business stability, and it’s easy to see why some may have struggled.
With light at the end of the tunnel – although we are yet to fully appreciate how long the tunnel is – we should spare a moment to help restore our psychological health.
The theme of the Mental Health Awareness Week this year, rather aptly, was kindness. You may have got involved to help spread the love by checking in on a neighbour, friend or colleague and giving them a little cheer. But the importance of mental health goes far beyond the May campaign, which is why we want to carry on talking about it. Why not show yourself some kindness to make sure you are ready for whatever the next few months hold?
Restoring mental wellbeing
It is vital to look after your mental health and get into the right mindset that will allow a positive outlook.
Here are a few key steps you can take to restore your mental health:
If you have any concerns about your work, business or family, talk about them. Speak to your partner at home or give your best friend a call and just talk. You don’t need to find a solution – although you might want to brainstorm – just getting things off your chest will provide some relief.
Whether it’s a walk or run outdoors once a day, an online fitness video, a bit of gardening or just dancing around your living room to your favourite music with the kids, it’s important to keep moving. It will help you burn some energy and take your mind off any worries, even if only for a short time.
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes' brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Participation in regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety.
Many of us are guilty of having let our normal diet go with our normal routine. However, eating a healthy, balanced diet will make you feel much better in the long-term – both physically and mentally. Definitely treat yourself, just in moderation.
Just as the diet may have slipped, so may alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol to combat feelings of loneliness or fear will only provide temporary relief and may make you feel worse in the long-run. Try to limit any alcohol consumption to protect your health – maybe keep it as a weekend treat?
A quick call to family and friends you haven’t seen for a while could do wonders for your mood and psychological wellbeing. By asking any questions you have about going back to work and sharing experiences with your peers, you could start to alleviate concerns and lower your stress levels.
Of course, as we begin seeing patients again, they are likely to need just as much support in getting back to ‘normal’. Make sure they are aware of available resources to help them restore their own mental wellbeing, while also reminding them of the importance of their dental hygiene. Research has shown various connections between mental and oral health, so effective dental hygiene routines and quality products are a must for all.
Life may have changed this year, but the importance of our mental and physical wellbeing is not one of them. Take some time to look after all aspects of your health so you are ready to help your patients when you return to work.
Author: Dawn Woodward