Surgery After COVID-19: Why It’s Time to Refocus on Preparation
At a Glance
- As the world begins to take the first steps into life after quarantine following the global pandemic, reports indicate that elective surgeries will begin to take place once again. Today, we discuss the ways in which patients and the general population alike can ensure that they stay healthy during a time when it matters most.
- Diet: Nutrition is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Prioritizing filling our diet with clean, nutrient-dense is key for boosting our immune health, strengthening our bodies, and preparing us for a smooth surgery and seamless recovery.
- Exercise: Physical activity plays a pivotal role in our health. If your fitness routine has slipped during the mandatory quarantine, it’s important that it becomes part of your daily routine once again, particularly if you have an upcoming procedure.
- Quit Smoking: We are well-aware of the negative effects that smoking has on our health. If you are looking to re-emerge post-pandemic with a fresh, wellness-focused start, it’s time to toss tobacco to the side. If you’re getting ready for surgery, it’s important to eliminate smoking from your lifestyle as this habit can lead to serious surgical complications.
- Reduce Alcohol Intake: Often used as a means to cope during stressful times, for many, drinking can become an unhealthy crutch. Whether you’re preparing for a procedure or simply looking to improve your health, take some time to evaluate whether an alcohol habit has gotten out of hand.
- Focus on Mental Health: As a country, we’ve all faced an extremely unsettling new world as a result of the global health crisis. As we reemerge from self-isolation, take the opportunity to check in with yourself to determine if you could use some support with finding a healthy, happy headspace.
Whether you’re gearing up for an upcoming procedure that had been rescheduled during the height of the pandemic or are returning to a bustling workplace, it’s more important now than ever before that we prioritize our health. Things you might have once considered “wellness bonus points” are now non-negotiables and are imperative to staying healthy and feeling our best during this transitional time. As recent reports announce the return of elective surgeries and procedures, we are taking a look at some of these non-negotiables and discussing why they need to jump to the top of our healthy lifestyle checklist.
We’re not quite there yet, but as we begin to consider the possibility of shifting back to our lives before the health crisis (with some important “new normal” caveats of course), it’s important that we prepare accordingly. But what exactly does that preparation look like?
Eat a well-balanced diet
Just like a luxury sports car, our body is a fine-oiled machine that requires high-quality fuel if we want it to run smoothly. Whether you’ve got a surgery on the calendar or are simply looking to feel your best, what you choose to nourish yourself with will determine your outcome. A solid nutrition plan leading up to surgery has been shown to greatly improve your outcomes afterward.
Over the years, we’ve really over-complicated diet and nutrition when fundamentally, it’s pretty simple: when you eat real food, you’re going to feel real good. So eat your veggies, drink your water, and skip foods with an ingredient list that requires a translator.
Move More & Get Active
Getting active goes far beyond that rush of exercise endorphins you feel after a good sweat session. In fact, regular physical activity has been linked to everything from boosting our immune system to improving our mental health.
If your exercise routine has slipped as a result of the stay-at-home orders, now is as good a time as ever to get back to daily movement! Not only will this help ward off illness & infection, which is especially important if you’re preparing for an upcoming procedure, but it will also give your long-term health a boost.
Kick a Smoking Habit
We’ve all been told what dangers smoking poses to our health, so it should come as no surprise that quitting a cigarette habit makes our list of ways we can improve our health during a time when it matters most. Between increasing our risk of contracting serious disease to decreasing our life expectancy, smoking simply has no place within a healthy lifestyle, particularly if you’re gearing up for surgery.
Some complications you could expect if you don’t toss the tobacco before surgery include a greater risk for developing blood clots or experiencing a heart attack or blood clots during a procedure, a greater chance of developing pneumonia and other serious respiratory issues, and a decreased ability to fight infection during post-op recovery. So whether you’ve got a surgery planned in the months to come or are simply looking for a fresh, healthy start following the global pandemic, there’s no better time to kick smoking to the curb.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Alcohol tends to be a tricky subject to navigate since it’s effects on each individual tend to vary. Regardless of the individual effects it may have, the best approach to alcohol consumption, if you do choose to drink, is and will always be moderation.
For some, alcohol can become an emotional crutch, particularly during unsettling times like we have been experiencing during the pandemic. If alcohol has become a fixture in your coping strategy, then it may be time to consider cutting back on alcohol or taking a break from drinking altogether, especially if you have a surgery approaching in the near future.
Research has shown that periods of excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on our immune health & compromise our immune response-not something we can afford during a health crisis. Studies have also indicated that those who chose to drink leading up to a procedure are more likely to bleed excessively and heal slowly, with an increased chance for developing other serious post-op complications.
If you’re on a mission to put your health first during as we move beyond self-isolation than ask yourself whether regular alcohol consumption has a place in your lifestyle.
Focus on Your Mental Health
If you’ve felt frightened, anxious, and stressed during this period, know that you’re not alone. For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic felt something like an earthquake that just wouldn’t quit shaking our foundation. Now more than ever, as things slowly begin to settle and that earthquake begins to feel more like a quiver, it’s time to check in with ourselves and ask, “Am I doing ok?”.
And if the answer to the above question is “not really”, that’s okay! We’ve been through a lot and sometimes we just need to let ourselves feel everything, including the not-so-great emotions, to appreciate the contentment and peace that is sure to come when we put our mental health first.
As we move into another stage of our “new normal”, now is the time to run through a personal audit of our headspace. If you’ve found yourself in a place mentally that feels inescapable, it’s time to reach out and ask for help. It may not be easy, but seeking professional help will give you the tools you need to bounce back from this period stronger than before, and you may find that you’ve learned a bit about yourself, your strength, and your resilience along the way
While we begin to take the steps in the direction of our new normal post-pandemic, now is the time to put wellness first, physically, mentally, and emotionally. At the end of the day, our health is the most important thing we own-so own it fully.