Social distancing and pandemic—two words that I have never thought I would hear used in life on a daily basis. And here we find ourselves stressed about the unknown, watching the news and worrying about what the future brings both short and long term. On a brighter note, we were blessed with the gift of time and slowing down among our busy lives … time to connect, time to evaluate, and time to ourselves.
In times of crisis, our normal lives are turned upside down. We often focus on the negative, glued to the television for hours on end. First, breathe. Take the remote in hand and firmly press off. It is amazing what turning off the panic and blame can do for a person’s mental well-being. Unplug and be present in the moment. Look at the beauty of the world around us and all we have been blessed with.
Many of us have children at home unexpectedly and are navigating the waters of homeschooling. My preteen kids face this situation with anger and confusion, wondering why they cannot see friends and why they still have to do work at home.
A schedule both parents and children abide by makes expectations clear and reduces arguments. Include schoolwork, time outdoors, and “life lessons,” which are those things that are no longer taught in most schools, such as cooking, gardening, money management, and changing a tire.
Involve your family to see what they would be interested in learning. Many museums have virtual tours of exhibits you can take in the comfort of home. I personally discovered I am not created to be a full-time homeschooling mom of teenagers, and my high respect for teachers has been elevated to rock star level.
Tackle the long list of to-dos that always seem to be put off for another day due to busy schedules. No longer are we running kids to school functions and sports practices and instead we are home together. Cleaning out closets, repainting the ugly laundry room and preparing the yard for spring are just a few suggestions. When was the last time you read a book? Use the opportunity to try new recipes or learn something new you always wanted to.
Connect with yourself and others. Take time for yourself. As parents we often put the well-being and activities of friends and families before ourselves. Enjoy a cup of coffee, binge watch a new series without guilt, anything that puts your mind and body at ease. Take a walk outside to enjoy the blooming spring colors and be thankful this is not happening in the dead of Winter. Keep in touch with friends and family through mail, email, or phone. Connect with your spouse or partner and make plans for when the restrictions are lifted and life returns to normal. Write notes for those you love and leave them around the house for others to find.
Take the opportunity to take continuing education courses online. Network with other dental professionals and make new dental friends throughout the country via many of the online forums. Some dental conferences have been cancelled, while others such as the Arizona state conference will be going to a virtual format. Explore the possibilities and use this opportunity for professional growth and connections.
We are in unprecedented times. Though you are practicing social distancing, don’t forget to breathe and look at the opportunity to slow our pace of life and appreciate the beauty around us. Practice self-care both physical and mental, and realize this too shall pass.
Time marches on and we can all use it to appreciate all we have been blessed with. We are all in this together and all can do our part to support each other from a distance. There is a light shining at the end of the tunnel. Stay safe my friends!
Jamie Collins, RDH-EA, is a clinical practicing hygienist in Idaho and Washington states. She has been in the dental field for nearly 20 years, both as an assistant and hygienist. With a passion for patient care, especially those with higher risk factors, Jamie enjoys sharing the tips and tricks of dental profession through speaking and writing. In addition to clinical practice Jamie is also an educator, has contributed to multiple textbooks and curriculum development, and contributes as a key opinion leader. Jamie can be contacted at [email protected]