Thank you to our guest author, Hazel Bridges. firstname.lastname@example.org
Self-care fell to the back burner during the COVID-19 pandemic as families scrambled to navigate shutdowns, school closures, and other disruptions to daily life. At RDHAP Connect we recently discussed how some patients even delayed getting their teeth cleaned due to fears over the pandemic.
As life moves forward, however, it’s important to start caring for yourself once again. Here are four ways you can get yourself organized and back on track for a better 2022.
Get Out of Financial Denial
Are you stuck in financial denial? If the pandemic left you so stressed about money that you stopped paying attention to finances altogether, it’s time to stop ignoring money problems and address them head-on.
Debt consolidation is one strategy to relieve financial stress. But while consolidation keeps monthly payments manageable, it won’t fix anything without a change in spending habits. Put together a budget and payment plan to stop overspending and start making progress on debts.
What if you lost income during the pandemic and your monthly cash flow can’t keep up with expenses? Before downsizing to a more affordable home, find out if refinancing could help you. If current mortgage rates are lower than when you bought, or if your home’s value has risen significantly, refinancing your mortgage with a new loan could reduce your monthly payment and relieve financial pressure.
Stop the Social Media Binge
Financial denial isn’t the only type of escapism people have indulged in during the pandemic. We’ve also spent more time on social media, with 72% of survey respondents saying their social media consumption is up during the pandemic. That’s true even as news feeds became “overwhelming,” “stressful,” and an “information overload” during the pandemic.
Social media is great for staying connected, but it’s important to put boundaries around its use to keep social media from becoming a source of stress. Cut back on mindless scrolling by using timers and apps to limit time on social media, decluttering your social media feed by getting rid of content you don’t enjoy, and keeping your phone out of sight, out of mind when doing things that deserve your full attention.
Manage Stress and Comfort Eating
Eating poorly is another bad pandemic habit that people hope to kick. It’s natural to crave comfort foods in times of high stress, but after more than 18 months, waistlines are starting to take note.
Unhealthy diets do more than promote weight gain, however. Poor eating habits disrupt gut health, slow immune function, and impair moods, energy, and concentration. That makes pandemic stress even harder to deal with, so it’s important to get back into healthy eating patterns.
Build your meals around high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and nutrient-rich vegetables. Don’t worry about losing weight right now. Instead, focus on rebuilding the eating habits that help you feel your best. Meal plan and use meal delivery services to close the gap on days you don’t feel like cooking. When you feel the urge to stress eat, use mindfulness to check in with your needs. You might find that a glass of water, a short walk, or a fun distraction satisfies your craving.
Catch Up on Preventive Care
When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re also less likely to visit the doctor. After extended periods of less-than-healthy behavior, we’re afraid of the bad news we might receive. However, there are some types of care it’s simply unwise to put off. That includes cancer screenings, mental health treatment, follow-ups for chronic illness, and check-ups for new and concerning symptoms.
It also includes dental cleanings. While home care goes a long way to prevent gingivitis and gum disease, it’s not a replacement for cleanings from your dental hygienist. Pressing dental concerns like tooth pain, broken teeth or fillings, or bleeding and swollen gums also shouldn’t be ignored.
Clinicians are taking measures to protect staff and patients from COVID-19 so you can feel confident visiting your dental hygienist. As an added precaution, schedule your dental appointment first thing in the morning or immediately after lunch.
It’s normal for healthy habits and routines to fall to the wayside during times of high stress. However, neglecting your well-being too long leads to bigger problems. As the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel grows nearer, get life back on track with these tips and if you have a loved one who cannot easily access the dental office due to health concerns, let RDHAP Connect link you with a registered dental hygienist in alternative practice in your community.
It is now October 2021. Who would have thought that we would be still be talking about COVID? In my March 2020 post I recall mentioning "this will be remembered as the year of COVID19". I had no idea how true that would be. It has since morphed into the year (2021) of the Delta variant of COVID19. Yikes.
I am blogging today because I worry, as do my dental hygiene colleagues, about your oral preventive care. The question is: Are you afraid to get your teeth cleaned? Are you waiting to schedule your cleaning appointment until the pandemic is over? Read on and rest assured your oral health is important and we are here for you.
When the COVID pandemic first occurred, dental office personnel became fearful that the aerosol produced during the practice of dentistry would be a super spreader of the virus. To their credit, dentists, dental hygienists, and the staff members have done such an admirable job of reducing and controlling aerosols.
To back track a bit, just to refresh our memories. Webster defines an aerosol as a very fine solid or liquid dispensed in gas that is emitted from a container. These very small particles are so small they often linger in the air for a long period of time - minutes to hours - versus the seconds droplets linger in the air. Think of the mist from a perfume spray as compared to droplet or sprinkle of water. This is a very basic comparison. A deep dive could fill a book.
In the context of a dental office, aerosols that could possibly contain bacteria and other pathogens come mainly from:
We have long protected ourselves, as clinicians, from these aerosols with the use of face masks, goggles, and clinical gowns. Since the entrance of the COVID pandemic, dental practice quickly adapted to protect the patient, as well. Not from us, as the dental office personnel should have been protected already, but from the patient who was in the treatment room before you. As I noted earlier, we know aerosols can hang in the air for minutes to hours after they enter the air.
All that stated, the basic precautions you, the patient, could take would be to schedule your appointment:
If you at all have a disability, disease, or condition that would make you at extreme risk or overly concerned, please contact an RDHAP or direct access dental hygienist. In California, an RDHAP can provide your dental hygiene care in the comfort of your home or bedside until you feel safe returning to the dental practice.
Elena Francisco, RDHAP, MS has been practicing dental hygiene for over 40 years and has been an RDHAP since 2005.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors. Guest authors are responsible for the material in their posts. The material shared is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical or dental advice. The accuracy of information in these posts are not guaranteed. RDHAP Connect is not responsible for the actions of products or advertisers linked to posts.