Every debacle presents the opportunity to carry learnings forward into the future. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different. This event has changed many aspects of our lives – from the way we work to the way we socialize. One area that has somewhat flown under the radar, however, is how we approach personal hygiene. As we start to move into a post-pandemic world, it’s important to take extra care to ensure that we are staying clean and healthy. While there may not be a roaring pandemic around us anymore, we are learning the benefits of preventive habits that can keep us from falling sick and losing out on the fullness of life. Here are some notes on personal hygiene in a post-pandemic world that you should keep in mind.
Personal Hygiene: What We Have Learned from the Pandemic
Each of us has been taught from a young age the importance of keeping ourselves and our surroundings clean and free of germs. In the 21st century however, much of this historical learning is taken for granted. Irrespective of the virus or bacteria in question, basic practices can go a long way when it comes to keeping us healthy. During the peak of the pandemic, the most significant recommendations from doctors and scientists focused almost exclusively on this topic. In many places around the world, wearing masks in crowded places has become the norm as people have gotten more concerned about falling ill. Washing hands frequently is again advice we have all heard repeatedly since far before the onset of the pandemic, yet it has taken on new significance today. On average, households today pay far more attention to the materials used in our homes, their safety and efficacy information, their impact on our health and the environment, and so on. These newfound behaviours are our evolutionary response to the calamity which struck us. We would do well to consistently practice these habits and incorporate them into our daily lives, irrespective of the situation around us.
How to Reduce the Risk of Respiratory Illnesses
One of the most effective ways we can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses is to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for symptoms such as cough, cold, fever, sore throat or other complications. As for the most common respiratory problems of today, seasonal illnesses like influenza and pneumonia are the most frequent, although it is important to note that COVID-19 is still a presence in many places around the world. In addition to frequent handwashing and wearing a mask in crowded spaces, we can also make sure that our homes are regularly cleaned and aired out to reduce the risk of mould or other allergens that can worsen respiratory symptoms. Age old practices like steam inhalation and gargling are simple and effective, and today equally accepted by western medicine as well as traditional systems of health. It is fair game to add a couple of products to your personal care regimen, but it’s advisable to pay close attention to the ingredients and usage patterns associated with such products. For example, natural mouth and nose cleansers are preferable to ones using synthetic chemicals, especially over the long term. Since there are many nasal and oral drops and sprays available in the market, it’s best to do some research before adding it to your routine. Finally, it is always a good idea to get regular health checkups to identify issues early on. Almost all respiratory illnesses can be dealt with if identified early in their onset.
Practicing Good Hygiene in the Workplace
Our homes are relatively controlled environments. For the most part we know what comes in and goes out. If we’re looking to clean it up, all we need is a good playlist and a couple hours. Theworkplace, however, is a different story. As WFH gives way to hybrid and physical workplaces once again, the likelihood of catching something unwanted from a stranger or coworker goes up drastically. There are certain simple steps we can follow to avoid piling up sick leave in 2023. Apart from the basics like handwashing and using sanitizer, there are other low-hanging fruit which only need the least bit of our attention to yield dividends. Taking breaks to step out and get some fresh air every few hours is one such action. Not only does it allow our respiratory system to recharge and reset, but it also has a measurable impact on our state of mind and productivity. If this is not feasible in your workplace, you should at least aim to get in a few minutes alone or in a less-crowded area every couple hours. Employers should also monitor the cleanliness of commonly used tools, equipment and surfaces and make sure employees are educated on proper hygiene protocols. Finally, try to ensure that you shower and brush your teeth first thing in the morning, before you head into work – trust me, your coworkers will be grateful! These behaviours will help everyone avoid general health setbacks and create a more energetic and productive workspace overall.
The Role of Pollution in the Spread of Respiratory Illnesses
While the modern world (full of technology) has made life easier in many ways, it has also led to certain devils which plague our health. Pollution is an ubiquitous problem across much of the world, and its long term effects on our bodies are well known. The pandemic, like all catastrophes has shed light on issues which, while not directly related to itself, still deserve attention from us. In the developing world, many more people today fall sick from exposure to environmental pathogens than they did even a couple decades ago. To reduce your risk of falling sick from breathing in harmful germs and pollutants, you should take steps to avoid contact with polluted air. This could mean staying indoors on days with high levels of air pollution, wearing a face mask when in crowded and congested areas, and keeping windows closed during peak hours. For the more adventurous, adding an air purifier to your home is also a great way to reduce your exposure. Avoid the use of synthetic air fresheners and scented candles, and try to regularly air out your workspaces and homes. If you use nasal decongestants to clear out mucous then try to pick ones with natural ingredients.
New Normal – A Myth for the Ages
Human beings love stories, and & the new normal is one of our most recent coinages. The truth is, there is no new normal because what is normal is constantly changing along with our world. The important thing to note is that our health is important, and bringing consciousness into our daily activities can help us stay healthy and happy. For each one of us, what is vital is that we assess our habits and seek out areas of improvement with respect to hygiene. As we move ahead in this post-pandemic world, there will be other pathogens and other illnesses that keep challlenging us. Much of what is discussed above will apply no matter what the specifics of these future challenges are. Fighting anxiety with information is always a winning strategy. Make sure to ask yourself if your choices are scientific, safe, and simple.