COVID-19 diaries with Kinita Patel: Taking Time to Smell the Roses

Next COVID-19 diaries is with Kinita Patel, a final year (and just graduated!) dental student from Bristol University...

Work-related stress, close confinement with family members and concerns about the future. These are a few amongst the plethora of potential negatives that may be affecting our thinking during these uncertain times. Over time, these negative feelings can have a substantial effect on our mental health and leave us feeling defeated, fatigued and distracted. It  may seem difficult to keep our mental health in check, but it is just as important as our physical health, so with the help of NHS guidance, I've put together some small tips below which I hope will help those of needing a little boost.

Connecting With Others

I know this may sound silly for those of you currently surrounded by household members with the current guidance of remaining at home as much as possible. However, connecting with and being surrounded by people are different things. 

You can try to improve your connection with those in your household by really engaging in conversation and having dedicated technology free periods where you can fully lend yourself to this, for example eating dinner together. For loved ones further away, reaching out over video calling (Zoom, Skype, Facetime), can help with maintaining and building a supportive network. It also allows you to share and reflect on positive experiences you have had or shared together, which may provide a sense of belonging and self-worth, as well as remembering things that bring you joy. Scheduling these 'catch-ups' may also give you something to look forward to and mimic pre-COVID life, where you would have arranged to meet. 

Being Physically Active

Physical activity is not only for physical fitness. It also feeds into mental well being as it releases happy hormones or endorphins. For me, it also offers a sense of achievement and routine to my day, which during the lock down is helping things to feel more normal. 

Exercise can also push you to venture outdoors, which is great, as being in nature is said to better mood. If you want to exercise outdoors, for example running, but are feeling a bit anxious as you haven't tried it before, then remember yo go at your own pace, in line with what your body can manage and feel pleased with whatever you achieve as something is always better than nothing! The 'Couch to 5K' podcast is fantastic for those who want a bit of guidance - this will work you up from an absolute beginner to 5KM over 9 weeks. 

If you don't feel like leaving the house for exercise every day or can't, then you can still do plenty at home. YouTube workouts and fitness apps offer an abundance of options for all levels of fitness, from Yoga to 30-minute HIIT workouts. Currently the fitness YouTubers I've been using are: The Body Coach, Yoga with Adriene and Tom's Merrick's stretching videos. Most of all, find something you actually enjoy as it will keep you motivated to continue long term. 

Learning a New Skill

Research shows that learning a new skill can improve mental well being, as it boosts self-confidence and builds a sense of purpose. It definitely has to also be said however, that you don't always need to be doing something productive (as mentioned in Beth's article) and also it may feel like there's a lot of pressure during the lock down to pick up a new skill, it isn't necessary. 

If you do want to learn a new skill, it can be anything form trying a new recipe, a DIY project around the house of an online course or tutorial. Find something you enjoy and make it part of your life; it doesn't need to be formal teaching. 


Giving to others can help make connections with those around you, while creating positive feelings from a sense of reward. 

Examples include thanking people for things they have done for you, offering support to family members during the pandemic, whether this be with members of your own household or over the phone to friends and family elsewhere. You can also reach out to the wider community and offer voluntary work if it is safe for you to do so, to find out about opportunities you can search your local council/boroughs website. Here's the one for London boroughs


By paying attention to the present moment and noting how you feel in your surroundings, it can help you to positively change the way you may feel in certain (stressful) situations and help you face challenges better. There are a variety of different apps and podcasts out there, that are very useful in guiding you into mindfulness and what exactly it means to be mindful. Currently I'm trying to keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, I try to find at least 3 things in the day that brought joy or that I am grateful for (again they don't have to be big things). This helps me to reflect on the day and highlight the positive aspects amongst all of the potential stress. 

Seeking Help

Seek help when you need it. You are not alone and although currently it may feel as if help is out of reach there is plenty of support around should you need it. 

So, remember to take one day at a time, try not to become overwhelmbed with all the change and news surrounding COVID-19 and give yourself a pat on the back, because we are all doing our best!

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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