BSDHT’s Diane Rochford: Dry January isn’t just for patients
When we talk about lifestyle changes and events such as Dry January – a challenge created by Alcohol Change UK that encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of January and inspire a healthier start to the year – we link these to our patients and highlight how they can impact oral health.
But what about the benefits of we professionals following the same route? Working in dentistry can be very stressful. In fact, a survey that assessed stress levels among dental hygienists found that more than half the people in this profession feel stressed on a daily basis.
It’s easy to see why curling up on the sofa with a glass of wine after a tough day in practice can seem the best way forward, especially if the day has left you feeling tired, unhappy and needing a pick-me-up.
But research suggests that drinking alcohol may actually make stress worse. Alcohol is a natural depressant which can impact the delicate balance of chemicals and processes in your brain. The effects of alcohol on mental health can be severe, and those who drink alcohol regularly are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, perform self-harm and have suicidal thoughts.
Trouble sleeping? Alcohol can also impact the quality and length of sleep you get. This links with a decline in mental health and the development of certain physical illnesses, all of which can be made worse through lack of, or poor-quality, sleep.
It’s also worth considering systemic conditions caused or exacerbated by alcohol consumption; including: mouth, breast and throat cancer, stroke, heart disease, liver disease and brain damage.
As you can see, giving up alcohol can be a positive step for us all. But how can we get involved with Dry January? In 2022, Alcohol Change UK is offering people who want to take part the chance to download a free app (click HERE).
This app lets you set your own goals, meaning you can extend your period of no drinking far beyond January or use it to track your current alcohol consumption and formulate a programme that will work for you. It’s a fast, easy way to take on the challenge in your own way, while helping you to take control of your personal alcohol consumption.
Encourage your friends and colleagues to get involved, perhaps you can embark on the alcohol-free life together – this is a great way to support one another and stick to your goals, especially as going solo can be more challenging.
Ultimately, cutting down our alcohol consumption is something that we should all consider. It’s a great way to reduce the risk of multiple health problems, feel refreshed and keep at the top of the game – plus, we can encourage our patients to do the same, helping everyone to achieve a better, healthier lifestyle.