5 ways to prioritize mental health in the COVID-19 era

August 6, 2020

Companies and organizations across the U.S. continue to grapple with the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dental profession is no exception. Dentistry is reported to be one of the most high-risk occupations for potential infections because dentists work in close proximity to patients.

As a practice owner, juggling the many challenges that come with running a business during the pandemic could be taking a toll on your mental and emotional health. You set the tone for the office, and any stress you’re dealing with can trickle down to employees and affect business and morale.

The following tips can help you reduce stress and maintain a healthy team dynamic.

Take a break

Finding a few minutes to step away from the busy workday can be good for your mental health. With increased safety measures in place, you and your staff are more prone to physical and emotional exhaustion throughout the day, as you are now donning additional PPE and spending extra time disinfecting treatment rooms between patient appointments.

Taking a short break to disconnect and relax can help you realign your focus and finish the day strong. Set reminders to step outside to get fresh air or sit in the breakroom to get a few minutes away from the fast pace of the office. If staffing and scheduling permit, take a few personal days for a change of scenery.

Talk to someone

Talking can be a healthy way to cope with the problems that may be weighing you down. It may not always easy for you to describe how you’re feeling, but a listening ear can help you feel supported and less alone. Opening up may also encourage other team members to do the same.

Try talking to a loved one or a counselor. Many health care plans now offer virtual counseling sessions to help those who are dealing with the stress of the pandemic. You should utilize this resource if it’s available and ensure that your employees are aware of the benefit as well.

Stay active

Try making physical activity a part of your daily routine. Experts say that exercising releases chemicals in the brain that make a person feel good. Additionally, regular exercise can boost a person’s self-esteem and help with concentration and sleeping.

Find a physical activity you enjoy doing, such as taking a walk in the park, biking or gardening. Experts say most people should perform about 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.

Maintain a balanced diet

It’s common for some people to skip a meal or even forget to eat when they’re busy or under a lot of stress. Meals are often replaced with high-caffeine or sugary drinks and snacks that don’t offer the nutrients the body needs to function properly.

Yet, food can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s mental health. Focus on eating at least three meals each day and drinking plenty of water. For a balanced diet, eat lean proteins, whole grains and at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily. You should always consult a doctor or dietician for specific dietary advice.

Do something you love

After being in the practice all day, spending time on a personal hobby can help you clear your head of any worries. Whether it’s trying new recipes, sketching or reading a book, doing something enjoyable can boost self-esteem and give you the chance to creatively express yourself.

Help employees engage in self-care by sharing these tips and incorporating wellness initiatives in the dental office. You can also read 4 ways to create a positive work culture during the COVID-19 pandemic for more guidance on how to help employees be productive and feel valued in the workplace.

CDA offers resources that support the physical, social and financial wellness of members and staff. Visit the Wellness Resource Center for tips on managing stress, staying resilient and find expert advice on finances.


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