Elle Brown, Telephone Counsellor - Dental Practitioner Support

Many of us are feeling a sense of uncertainty as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives. As a dental practitioner or student you may feel a sense of uncertainty around your health, the health of your loved ones, job or business security, or how your work is being effected. It’s ok to feel that way, but it’s important to manage that feeling so that you can continue to look after yourself and your patients.

Here are some tips to help you look after yourself during uncertain times.

dental practitioner with patient

Feeling unprepared?

While none of us have faced anything exactly like this pandemic, you may have past experiences that you can draw on to help you navigate these unsettling times.

Just for a minute, stop and think about a time in the past when you have cared for a patient/client with an uncertain diagnosis. By responding to their needs and questions, you helped them to understand that we sometimes face uncertainty and we can’t control every situation we experience.

We think we can control and fix almost anything and when that is challenged by uncertainty we may feel the ground shifting beneath our feet. However, you are able to deal with uncertainty. You have done it in the past and you can do it now.

Finding balance

In normal times we may like to believe that we are certain about life, conforming to a pattern or expectation. In truth, we can never be certain about what will happen next. What can help us find balance and managed this uncertainty are the rituals or behaviours we select that provide us with a foundation or steady ground.

There are lots of options that can be used. You might like to consider how some of these could fit into your life:

  • Focusing on behaviour will work for some people. Choosing gratitude, kindness or mindfulness can be beneficial in building a sense of balance.
  • Exercise will be some people’s go to — yoga, walking, jogging, dancing, bike riding or tai chi — this could be indoors or out in nature.
  • Creativity will help some people — they may bake, crochet, paint, knit or learn a craft they have always wanted to master.
  • Intellectual pursuits may be your thing — learning a language, reading a book, learning to play a musical instrument or joining a virtual choir.
  • Cosiness and comfort in familiarity could help — watching your favourite TV show again, cuddling up on the couch with a loved one or pet, or chatting to a loved one by video.
  • Speaking to a friend or counsellor — talking it out can be helpful, either with a friend or family member, or a professional. You can speak with a counsellor from our team at any time of the day, any day of the year – just give us a call on 1800 377 700.

Which of these could you include?

Why are these behaviours important?

What underpins these behaviours or rituals is also important and requires closer examination. Are you using them to escape a thought or feeling that you would be better off working through? Is the strategy you are using helping you, or is it actually adding more stress?

Perhaps it’s time to try a different strategy — having a range of options that you use is really helpful rather than just relying on one. Think of it as your toolbox of strategies to help look after yourself.

Talking with a counsellor or one of our team might be a helpful addition to your toolbox. You can call anytime on 1800 377 700.

Finding your routine

Having a routine can help you through uncertainty, as it can give you some markers in your day that keep you on track.

  • Eating well

Eating well — however you define that — is a key part of your routine that can help you deal with uncertainty by increasing your energy levels, improving your sleep and helping you better handle stress. If you need some pointers, check out our page on healthy eating.

  • Taking breaks

Work with your team to figure out when you are going to take your breaks each day and where possible try to actually take them. Also have a think about what you will do on your break. This could include going for a walk, listening to some music or a podcast, even just sitting quietly can help some people refresh.

  • Staying connected

Nurturing your connections to others can give a vital boost to your general wellbeing. Organise virtual catchups with friends or family, call someone just to say hello. You could even join an online class or group where you meet new people.

  • Sleeping

Sleep is crucial to good health and building your routine around sleep can be vital to healthy sleep.  Where possible, set a regular bedtime and wake-time, screen-free time for a period before sleeping, sleep in a darkened room and give yourself sleep cues with meditation or reading.

Put together a plan for your week and integrate some of the options we have presented. We would love to hear if they work for you.

Keep in touch

We are here for you. Give us a call and tell us how you are travelling, ring us for a vent, email about what works for you or what you would like to see. Get yourself a cuppa, find a comfy spot and pick up the phone: 1800 377 700.

Also, check out Dental Practitioner Support’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages — we are always sharing helpful content with strategies that are specifically aimed at helping dental practitioners and students.

Most importantly: look after yourselves and reach out when you need support.