Thoughts and experiences with the coronavirus

It’s not lost on me that the last column I wrote for “ODA Today” was about getting a job in dentistry, and now I sit here unemployed.

We are living through a pandemic, hospitals running low on PPE and ventilators, restaurants and dental offices closed for regular business, no definitive end in sight. The rate at which I’m receiving email updates about COVID-19 makes having linear thoughts almost impossible.

We are starting to realize that the rules of yesterday don’t apply anymore, and when we make it to the other side, our country and its people will be different as well. It’s all a little overwhelming, isn’t it?

There are some tactics that have worked for me in order to develop a positive attitude about our current situation. I share them not to make light of the situation, but to shift our focus and help us get through it.

1) Accepting the Current Situation

I can’t believe how quickly things have changed across America. In February we heard about the outbreak in China and assumed it could never get that bad here. We were all wrong! One of the things I’ve had to do is accept the current situation. Many of us (including myself) are out of work and waiting to see how the government will react. Once I accepted the current state of affairs, I was able to start creating a plan for how I could be productive and take advantage of this time away from our daily work. Focusing on what I could control gave me a direction and purpose.

2) Finding the Positive in this “New Normal”

Realizing that yes, I’ll be out of work (outside of dental emergencies) for the next few weeks, allowed me to reframe what those next few weeks would look like. I feel fortunate that I have control over how I want my day to be structured, what I want to accomplish, and how I want to continue to cultivate relationships. Maintaining a sense of gratitude has helped me stay positive and grounded in the midst of the chaos. I hope to develop my habit of gratitude to outlast the pandemic and continue to flourish.

3) Being Intentional with Time

Each evening, I put together a list of a few key activities I want to focus on executing on the following day. I’m finding myself spending more time reviewing finances, ICE (in case of emergency) planning, and creating goals for the next few years. I have been dedicating time to continuing dental education and finally completed the ODA’s free opioid CE! I’ve been spending time with my husband at home and other family members virtually, and have been trying out new recipes and free at-home workouts. Fortunately, I’m able to allocate my time to focus on what is most important to me during this period.

I believe we will see a paradigm shift on the other side of this pandemic. We realize that waking up without a cough or difficulty breathing is the true blessing. The real heroes these days are finally the first responders and those health professionals on the “front lines” of COVID-19. Although there will be many deaths and much instability as a result of this pandemic, our nation will get through this like all other tragedies, and I hope that as a result our actions will be better aligned with our values.