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
- Navigating a Mental Health Crisis
- Coping With Stress, Fear, and Worry
- CDC - Coping with stress
- CDC - Taking care of your emotional health
- The Herald News - Dealing with anxiety
COVID-19 Related Resources:
- NAMI COVID-19 Information and Resources
- Child & Family Psychological Services - Managing Anxiety About Coronavirus
- Virus Anxiety
- Mass.gov - Coping with stress and fear from COVID-19
- Mass.gov - Maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- MGH - Calm in the Time of Coronavirus
- United Healthcare - Emotional support and free of charge, COVID-19 Resource Center
- Boston.com - Maintaining your health during the COVID-19 outbreak
Online Wellness Classes:
Crisis Helplines & Suicide Prevention:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- United Way Call2Talk
- Massachusetts Behavioral Health - Emergency Services Program/Mobile Crisis Intervention
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Emotional Distress
View webinars on wellness topics such as yoga, stretching, and meditation in the MDS Personal and Professional Enrichment webinars library. Webinars include "Yoga Flow for the Dental Pro," "Musculoskeletal Disorders and the Dental Professional" and more.
Personal Help Hotlines
Massachusetts Suicide Hotlines
Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration Disaster Distress Helpline
Confidential Services for Alcohol and Substance Use
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.
- 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
Join Dr. Christina DiBona Pastan for a short breathing meditation exercise that can help bring ease and tranquility to your day.
Source: Fahad Khan, MD, MSc, MSPH, RYT 500. "The Wellness Benefits of Yoga and Meditation." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.
- 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
From the ADA Center for Professional Success: 7 Ergonomics Tips to Help You Stay Healthy
Cheryl Abelow, DPT. "Ergonomics in Dentistry." Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society. Spring 2017.
It's important to take the necessary steps to relieve 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
- 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
- Monitor yourself
- Set a target daily arousal level
- Plan your interventions wisely
- Implement and assess the impact
- Autonomic relaxation (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing)
- Muscle relaxation (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation)
- Appropriate exercise
- Enough sleep
- Healthy eating
- Reducing substances that tax your nervous system
- Meditation (e.g., mindfulness meditation)
- Social comfort
- Experiences of trust (e.g., confiding, prayer)
- Stress breaks/days off/time-outs
- Fun/pleasurable activities
MDS Health & Wellness Tips: Self-Care is Essential
Feeling disconnected from other dentists? A good strategy to help overcome this feeling of isolation is to pick up the phone and call another dentist. It could be an old classmate, another dentist in your town, someone you refer your patients to, someone you worked on a committee with, but another colleague in dentistry. It is helpful for both you and the person on the other end of the phone. For more insights on how to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, review this list of resources and ideas from the blog of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of California.
During these stressful times, it can be beneficial to seek out ways to help you deal with stress and feel less overwhelmed. Exercise, yoga, and meditation have been proven to help reduce stress. Another method to reduce stress is journaling, whereby you write down your thoughts and feelings (both positive and negative) on a daily or weekly basis. Sometimes, just the simple act of writing down what's bothering you can help clear your mind and put things into perspective. It's also a great tool for problem solving. You can keep a journal next to your bed and write in it before you go to sleep or use an online journal to help you keep track of your thoughts between patients or throughout your day.
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:
- Self-awareness of challenging job situations
- Adjust the person-organization fit via identification and fostering of job resources
- 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?
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.
MDS Health & Wellness Tips: Self-Care is Essential
It is important to keep your mind and body healthy during these unprecedented times, and the MDS Dentist Health and Wellness Committee wants to remind you that eating a nutritious, balanced diet is a key way to keep your immune system strong. Limiting sugary and processed foods and instead choosing nutrient-dense foods will help you fuel your body and stay healthy. Check out more information on how to eat more healthily from Dietitian Liz Pearson.
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.