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Health and Wellness

The mission of the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) is to improve oral and overall health of dentists in the Commonwealth through member engagement. The MDS Dentist Health and Wellness Committee (DHWC) serves to provide resources and services to MDS members to improve their overall health and well-being. As a result of the recent coronavirus pandemic, we are all going to be faced with a variety of new challenges and stresses to our lives and normal routines. The DHWC would like to provide you with resources and tools to help address some of these challenges. Each week, we will routinely be sending out emails with wellness tips and encourage you to take a few minutes, engage, and take care of yourself. We also invite MDS members to join the MDS Health and Wellness Facebook group dedicated to the discussion of wellness. If we are in a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally, then we are better equipped to help those around us. We are all in this together.

This dedicated webpage, which is updated as information is made available, is accessible to non-members, as well.

Staying Well During Isolation

Here are six steps for staying well during times of prolonged isolation and disturbance:

1. Keep a Routine

  • It is critical to keep your daily life predictable to the extent you can
  • If you’re working remotely, stick to a schedule
  • If work is on pause, create a new daily schedule for yourself and stick to it
  • Consider one 2-3 hour block of focused activity in the morning and another in the afternoon
  • Start a project you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time
  • Watch the DHWC webpage for upcoming ideas about what others are doing

2. Take Care of Your Body
  • Sleep well and stick to a regular bedtime
  • Enjoy the luxury of waking up without an alarm
  • Don’t linger in bed once you’re awake—get going
  • Eat healthy food—Eating a balanced meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will make you less tempted to stress-binge
  • Exercise daily and take advantage of having more time for it
  • Set new fitness goals for yourself
  • Walk, run, or bike while maintaining social distancing
  • Take one of the many guided exercises available online

3. Nurture Your Connections
  • This is the time to connect even more than ever
  • If you live alone, consider building daily check-in routines that keep you connected
  • If you live with others, remember to lift them up emotionally
  • Consider doing things together that you all enjoy
  • Walk away from conflicts at this time
  • Connect remotely often with people you’re close to outside of the house

4. Find Purpose
  • We’re in a time of prolonged pause from activities that give our lives purpose
  • Remember this is temporary
  • What can you do during this time to create purpose for yourself?

5. Take Care of Your Emotions: Seek Out Joy
  • We have so much more control over our emotions than we think
  • Find ways to redirect your attention to what brings you happiness
  • Try this what-went-well-today exercise
  • Seek out playful activities—music, dance, and games

6. Take Care of Your Emotions: Keep Your Worry in Check 
  • Anxiety is our mind’s way of getting us to pay attention to threat so we can problem solve
  • When used for problem-solving, anxiety is our friend
  • It’s not working right when we just get wound up without solution
  • The U.S. Department of Defense decided to build soldiers’ resiliency by teaching them to "decatastrophize"
  • You may want to learn this powerful technique

Resources

Personal Help Hotlines

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting our everyday routines and presenting new challenges for work and family life. If you or someone you know needs help during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the helplines below: 

Confidential Services

The Wellness Benefits of Meditation and Yoga

In these challenging and uncertain stressful times, it is possible that our anxiety will increase, our bodies will hold tension, and our minds will race. It is easy for us to feel overwhelmed with what we can’t control. When that happens, we should shift our energy and tap into what we can control. One of our greatest anchors at times of stress exists in all of us, and that anchor is our breath. By slowly breathing in and out, and making our exhales longer than our inhales, we can calm our nervous system and relax the body. 

Benefits:

  • Increase strength
  • Purify self
  • Improve self awareness
  • Overcome challenges


Yoga helps you overcome challenges by:

  • Acknowledging the challenge
  • Accepting the challenge
  • Having compassion for the challenge
  • Moving through the challenge



Source: Fahad Khan, MD, MSc, MSPH, RYT 500. "The Wellness Benefits of Yoga and Meditation." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.

Ergonomics

Common musculoskeletal injuries:
  • Mid- and low-back pain
  • Premature disc degeneration
  • Increased chance of radicular symptoms in the legs
  • Chronic neck and upper back musculoskeletal problems
  • Carpal tunnel and/or fingers


Decreasing musculoskeletal injuries:
  • Use an ergonomically correct stool
  • Sit with feet flat on the floor and keep the hips slightly higher than the knees
  • Maintain mid-line head/neck posture
  • Stretching the hands, fingers and wrists between dental instrument use and between patients
  • Learn how to engage and strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles



Cheryl Abelow, DPT. "Ergonomics in Dentistry." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.

Stress Management

With the world at large in the throes of this alarming pandemic, it is common to feel high amounts of stress and anxiety. That's why it's important that you take the necessary steps to relieve this stress as much as you can through physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral actions.

Top stressors:
  • Patients defaulting/no-showing
  • Bureaucratic workload
  • Time pressures
  • Difficult patients

Consequences of accumulation of unhealthy stress:
  • Neglect of basic living activities
  • Dysfunctional habits
  • Quick fixes for self-care habits
  • Derive less rewards from pleasures and thus neglect them
  • Lack of empathy and interest in others

Four basic steps to reduce stress:

  1. Monitor yourself
  2. Set a target daily arousal level
  3. Plan your interventions wisely
  4. Implement and assess the impact


Strategies for offsetting your stress:
PHYSICAL
  • Autonomic relaxation (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing)
  • Muscle relaxation (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation)
  • Yoga
  • Appropriate exercise
  • Enough sleep
  • Healthy eating
  • Reducing substances that tax your nervous system

COGNITIVE
  • Meditation (e.g., mindfulness meditation)
  • Distraction

EMOTIONAL
  • Social comfort
  • Experiences of trust (e.g., confiding, prayer)
  • Distraction

BEHAVIORAL
  • Stress breaks/days off/time-outs
  • Fun/pleasurable activities



Source: Diana L. Dill, EdD. "Stress Management for Practicing Clinicians." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.

The Impact of Job Engagement

Job well-being reduces the cognitive and emotional weight associated with:

  • Practice management
  • Patient interactions
  • High workload
  • Time pressures
  • Physical demands
  • Medico-legal regulations and implications


Steps to reduce exhaustion and foster engagement levels and productivity:

  1. Self-awareness of challenging job situations
  2. Adjust the person-organization fit via identification and fostering of job resources
  3. Detach and recover from work



Source: Alexander Montasem, PhD, MSc. "The Impact of Job Engagement and Recovery on Dentists' Well-Being." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.

Nutrition and Wellness

Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge on nutrition and wellness!

Question 1: True or false? If you want to lose weight all you have to do is eat less and exercise more.

Question 2: Which of the following are healthy for everyone and can be consumed as much as you'd like?

a. Apples

b. Spinach

c. Chicken

d. None of the above

Question 3: True or false? You should avoid egg yolks because they raise your cholesterol and cause heart attacks.

Question 4: Which product contains the least amount of sugar and is the healthier option?

a. 1 can of Red Bull energy drink

b. 1 cup of Strawberry Low Fat Dannon Yogurt

c. 1 cup of Breyers Vanilla ice cream

Question 5: True or false? The main predictors of a healthy lifestyle are nutrition and exercise.

Question 6: True or false? Self-care practices are only effective if you have 30 minutes or more to practice each day.

Community Service

In coordination with the Dentist Health and Wellness Committee, the Massachusetts Dental Society coordinates volunteer opportunities for members seeking ways to give back to their communities. Upcoming volunteer opportunities are posted on the Community Service page.

Joining with your colleagues and giving just a few hours of your time can make a big difference to neighbors in need. Volunteering also is good for your health! Research shows that getting active with your community and building a support network offers a break from everyday stress.