COVID-19 diaries with Kate Howford: Getting the Balance in Lock Down

Another COVID-19 diaries entry, with Kate Howford, a fourth year dental student at Sheffield University... 
Kate, Fourth year dental student at Sheffield

With Sheffield university's doors closed during this unprecedented time, I have decided to try and make the best of the lock down. I am in a very fortunate position as a student that I can take this time to have a break from studies and engage in things I usually don't have time for. Amongst the hurdles of exams, targets and placement that make up fourth year dentistry my timetable is usually pretty full and it's easy to lose track of why I started studying dentistry in the first place. 

I have been trying to keep dentistry fresh in my brain (I just can't stay away!) by taking advantage of free webinars that are usually advertised on social media. I have found that not be able to go out to placement and undertake my elective has really made me appreciate the value of the opportunities the University itself provides and has definitely renewed my love for teeth!

Away from the university bubble the lock down has made me think differently on how I balance my time between my studies and life outside of dentistry. Discovering new hobbies and taking the time to think about where I am now and where I want to be in the future has been really useful for my mental health. I have started meditating daily and I truly can't recommend it enough as it has made me really reflect on how 'present' I am instead of worrying about things that are out of my control. I have been using Headspace (which is offering free membership to NHS workers until December) and it really has been adding a bit of mindfulness into my day. Headspace even has dedicated sections towards students and coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic which I have found really helpful. Making sure I go for a walk in the park every day (rain or shine) to get some fresh air and clear my mind is also really important for well being. 

Kate enjoying her walks in the park

I have been also been trying my hand at learning Chinese (I have always wanted to learn a language but have never made time for it) and volunteering with a charity to telephone vulnerable people. My phone calls are to people who are usually isolating on their own, to check in, have a chat with them and help a little bit with any loneliness they are experiencing. This has had such an impact on me and has again made me feel very grateful for the network of friends and family that I have and I can't wait to meet the people I have been in touch with for a face-to-face cup of tea - hopefully one day in the not too distant future!

I've realised since lock down that I want to balance my time better and really look after my own mental health and well being more, and I want to continue with this once the constraints of lock down are lifted. I am trying to make the best out of this time but can't wait to get back to practising dentistry with a renewed passion hopefully very soon!

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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