How female chiropractors are dealing with the mental and physical stresses of COVID and pulling together to assess the ‘new normal’
Have you ever watched a movie about what happens when the world suddenly changes and how the people in it rise to meet those challenges?
I know I have watched a number of those dystopian movies while I am secure in my seat, knowing that this storyline is going to be neatly wrapped up with some thrills thrown into it in two hours or less.
This winter it sure felt like I was in one of those movies, but I felt like I couldn’t get out of it. Not only that, but there were no parts of the world to escape to. In our Women Chiropractors Facebook group we connected continually as we never before have. Most of the 8,200 members of Wdc were in there asking questions of each other about how to respond to this world event multiple times a day. Now looking back just a few short months later (or the longest months of March and April ever!), we have seen emotions that have made us realize we are walking through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Female chiropractors: dealing with anger, sadness
As a practitioner, initially, most of us in the group could not believe we would have to stop working or be severely curtailed in how much we work. We felt anger in that we had to stop caring for patients, as well as anger that some of our hard-won gains were wiped out in just a few months, or possibly that we were put on the sideline of practicing for many months altogether. At this point of bargaining as to how to specifically deal with COVID-19, both the disease and the government intervention, we processed through many different stages and variations.
For us in the U.S., we started to learn all about how to apply for PPP loans to get us through this wildly volatile time. Depression is something that has been talked about an awful lot inside our group as well. There is sadness for some whose hard work may end up with them closing their office; and as things open back up, there is uncertainty of what will happen to active practices well into the future. When we finally navigate through these various stages we can now move into the final stage of acceptance. This is the stage where we can successfully start picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and having a good hard look about how we can move through this, pick up the pieces, and put things back together again.
Emotion in economic uncertainty
In writing this for a publication with “economics” in the title, the idea of dealing with emotion seems like it isn’t part of where the focus is. However, this is exactly what we need to work through during this time.
I’ve seen so many DCs charge through and power past all of these stages and tell us to move ahead — but if you haven’t learned a new skill set from this then you will be left far behind. This has also been a large discussion point in our female chiropractic group. The collective wisdom of these female chiropractors is saying that “we as humans need to properly process this event.” This is an incredibly large blow, not just for the sake of a successful practice. In order for us to be successful human beings, we have to walk through these steps or pay the price in the future.
Some of us are still struggling through these stages, but for others, we are moving through on action steps to face this brave new world. Right now, as the world is slowly opening back up, we have a chance to remake our lives into a healthier version of the pre-COVID-19 world.
Personally — Take better care of yourself and those you love. Eat better, sleep better, exercise, get yourself checked and adjusted, and really assess what parts of your life before COVID-19 really served you well.
Professionally — More than at any time in our lifetime, people are looking at health as being the priority — the whole world stopped because of a health issue. Excuses our patients have previously given to not be able to seek care, such as not having time because they were so heavily scheduled out with kids’ activities and social life, work responsibilities, lack of finances to pay for care, etc., now hold very little weight. Priorities have been shifted. Health is the world’s #1 goal at this point, and we are in an incredible position to help people.
Reconnect with patients and meet change
Now is the time to start reconnecting with those patients. I personally have been going through old files and calling my patients to check in to see how they have been weathering the crisis, and it has been extremely rewarding to me.
This is an incredible time to do this. Look at your social media — Facebook was waning as new social media platforms became more popular, but now its importance has been highlighted as people still have time on their hands to look at it. If you haven’t dipped your toes in yet, now is the time to do it. There may never be a better time to do so.
Now is the time to see if you’ve gone through those stages of grief. Now is the time to personally connect with your patients. Now is the time to connect on social media.
We are the future. We have hope to offer. Embrace the good changes, leave off the old ones, and watch your practice and your life soar.
Cynthia Shaft-Toll, DC, FPAC, is a founder of the Women Chiropractors (Wdc) group, and is a 1981 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. She is the daughter of a chiropractor, the mother of a chiropractor, and a member of the Michigan Association of Chiropractors, ICA, and the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. She has been in practice in the Plymouth-Canton area of Michigan since the 1980s. Learn more at shaftchiro.com/about-us, or visit the WDC website at womenchiropractors.org.