Let’s just all agree that the year 2020 should be left in the dust. 2021 is already proving to be better – there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a sense of excitement and hope. Although there still lies a long road ahead, the COVID-19 vaccines will be working its way through our population, strengthening our bodies and resolve to get back to normal.
In 2021, let’s rally together to take back our health – whether that’s making positive changes in our lifestyle, reaching out to improve our mental health, or catching up on some much-needed maintenance.
In taking precautions to avoid transmission and infection by COVID-19, the following health measures may have been neglected this past year:
1) Visits to Physicians and Health Professionals
Statistics collected by Doctors Manitoba show a 50 per cent decrease in the number of patient visits during the spring of 2020, the first wave of COVID-19.
There was a lot of mixed messaging at the beginning of the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, many medical clinics were closed except for those providers offering telemedicine and phone appointments. Once the restrictions were lifted, health officials encouraged once again visiting one’s physician for health concerns. However, the overall tone of this pandemic was to not venture out if you didn’t have to…resulting in many people delaying medically neccessary visits to their physicians.
Those who experienced such things as physical injuries, concerns such as heart pain, may have lingering health issues that still need to be addressed.
Action item: If you have a health concern that you have been putting off, go see your physician to discuss. Late is better than never!
Vaccination rates among children have dropped as much as 20 per cent in parts of Canada, ramping up anxieties among select groups of the population, that the country could face a series of infectious outbreaks while still battling COVID-19.
Those who are delayed in their vaccination schedules may be at higher risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and bacterial meningitis.
Action item: Check the recommended immunization schedule for your province and ensure you and your family are up to date.
3) Cancer Screening and Diagnostic Testing
According to a recent CBC article, Alberta Health says the number of Albertans diagnosed with cancer decreased by 23 per cent for the period of March to September 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019. This doesn’t mean that less people are getting cancer, but rather cases are being missed and people aren’t reciving the necessary screening and treatment they require. The implications of a delayed diagnosis can have serious repercussions to the treatment options available and ultimately the success of one’s outcome.
Other types of diagnostic testing for health conditions such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may have taken a back seat as well during this pandemic. Loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, daytime fatigue, and memory loss are just some of the indicators of OSA. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your physician about getting a Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT) through a CPSA Accredited sleep diagnostics provider like Aveiro Sleep or Sleep Medix.
Action Item: Write down your symptoms or other information related to your health concern and discuss with your physician.
4) Physical Activity
Group fitness, recreational sports, and even outdoor activities have been limited, if not off-limits this past year. This disruption is not only is a set-back for your physical health, but can also negatively affect your mental health.
Exercise is an essential part of well-being – among many benefits, exercise helps alleviate stress and anxiety, sets you up for a better sleep, and improves your concentration and motivation.
Some tips on getting started:
- Start slow if it’s been a while since you’ve been active.
- Set an achievable goal that can be increased as you get stronger.
- Try something new! Now’s the time to try out local park pathways, cross-country ski/snowshoeing, and exploring outdoor points of interest.
- Stuck indoors? No problem. There are ton of great resources online such as youtube.com that don’t require equipment. Dancing, yoga, and beginner martial arts lessons are readily available.
Action Item: Try incorporating some form of physical activity into your daily schedule.
5) Social Interactions
Without the connection to others, depression and lack of motivation wreak havoc on our well-being. Although virtual hangouts and meetings are not always as satisfying as real life, its important to strive for consistent engagement to maintain relationships.
Doing unexpected, positive gestures such as dropping off a friendly note or helping others with shoveling their sidewalks can go a long way in providing purpose and a sense of connection.
If you are on the introverted side, join a community online group where you can interact and share common interests.
Action Item: Aim to have at least one interaction a day with another human being. Phone a friend, say hi to someone while on walk, or catch up with a neighbor (while maintaining appropriate distance of course!).
Let’s not let this virus take anything more away from us. We cannot lose sight of things that are in our control to stay healthy such as doctors’ visits, up-to-date immunizations, screening and testing for health concerns, and making a concerted effort to improve our physical and mental fitness.
All the best in 2021!
Aveiro Sleep provides Home Sleep Apnea Testing, CPAP therapy and support services catered to obstructive sleep apnea. Our local clinics allow us to test, treat, and support thousands of Albertans close to their homes.
Stepanie Hogan, Melanie Glanz. CBC News. December 17, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/cancer-tsunami-screening-delays-covid-1.5844708