Brushing our teeth is something that may seem or feel like second nature to most of us, well I hope ‘all’ of us. I don’t however think that any one of us woke up one day and decided to pick up a toothbrush and start brushing – we were taught!

If my older daughter is anything to go by, most of us may have resisted the abuse that we felt was being inflicted upon our mouths by this spiky weapon. She was a nightmare! I remember waking up with dread every morning as I faced the prospect of having to brush her teeth. She would keep her lips stuck together with all her might and I would attempt to get the brush through her wall of resistance. It felt like a battle! It was a battle!

As time went by she realised that I had no intention of giving in, so she decided to negotiate with me. She asked if she could brush her teeth herself. I agreed and suggested that I taught her how. That was the day I found peace and stopped dreading the teeth brushing issue.

Why am I fixated on this? Well, like her, we have all learnt to do many things over the years that have contributed towards our being healthy, fit, and clean. We have developed these daily rituals that we perform that have become so routine that we just do them, and consequently, we have fortified our physical bodies against injuries and illnesses. This doesn’t mean that we will never get ill or injured, but it means that if we do, we are more likely to recover.

This has led me to ask myself why we do not have the same approach to our mental health. Mental health, like physical health is an important part of our existence. It is real and it is normal!

Why then have we neglected to teach our little ones how to brush their mental teeth? The answer is simple – we were never taught. The result is that we now have a huge problem in our communities with rising mental health issues. We are only just beginning to realise and appreciate that our mental health contributes to our overall wellbeing. Thankfully, it is never too late to change our thinking and the way that we are being.

Brushing our mental teeth will be a different experience for everyone. We all brush our physical teeth, but we don’t all use the same toothpaste or brand of toothbrush. In some cultures people use chewing sticks. It doesn’t really matter how we brush or with what we brush. What matters is that we maintain oral hygiene.

So let’s maintain our mental hygiene by establishing habits that can enhance our overall experience of life.

Are you going to take up regular exercise if you don’t already do so?

Are you going to have more mindful habits like reading, gardening, colouring, meditation?

Are you going to eat better and sleep better?

I have an endless list of questions and suggestions, but the point is that your habits and rituals will have to be unique to what works for you.

There are numerous suggestions and tips online, so there is always a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.

Nobody can force you to brush your teeth, as this can feel like a battle. Like my daughter, learn how to brush your own teeth, and then you can be in control of your own wellbeing and hopefully be a be a support to others.