Getting ready for the New Year gives us time to pause and re-examine the values we hold to be true and to decide on our upcoming path for career and life. Dental hygiene has allowed us many truly exceptional opportunities for personal growth and, hopefully, financial stability. We are all well-versed in multiple areas of prevention, including not just oral health, but overall health and wellness. Most hygienists appear to be proactive in their approach to dentistry and life, but what about to our own personal life satisfaction?
Want to start the New Year feeling truly spectacular? Give a bit of your time to those who have a need we can fulfill. Many communities have family co-operatives that offer reduced-fee medical and dental treatments that accept volunteers on a limited basis. Perhaps you can carve out a few hours a month or even a day each quarter to provide treatment for our underinsured neighbors.
Many local schools will allow hygienists to make presentations to students teaching prevention and home care techniques, especially in February for Children’s Dental Health Month. Some communities offer free services to pregnant women and families with young children. Perhaps you could teach a class in nutrition for dental health, home care for infants and young children, as well as home care for the pregnant or new mom. Any opportunity that we have to share our vast knowledge with those that may be lacking in access to treatment or dental education is a huge benefit. Sometimes, even when life is hectic and holidays are approaching, it feels even more right to share our gifts with others. Be that person who freely shares your wealth of knowledge, and you will be amazed at how truly spectacular and energized you feel.
Tired of only talking teeth and dental health? We have more to share than just our degree, we are all clearly caring and compassionate individuals full of empathy and concern for the world, so we can insert ourselves in other arenas, as well. Look into your local CASA (court-appointed special advocate), Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, YMCA, WIC, Foster organizations for both human and animals, nursing homes, memory care facilities or perhaps hospice. A quick Google search of “volunteer opportunities near me” will usually provide a wealth of opportunities in your local area. Many religious organizations will also be able to provide a list of local options, including meals for those recovering from an illness or unable to provide for themselves. Choose what works best in your schedule giving as much or as little time as is convenient.
Do you have products you can donate? Food pantries and shelters are always accepting donations of toothbrushes, pastes, and dental aids. We have all heard stories of families sharing a toothbrush, and often we have a plethora of options in our own cabinet that could be easily shared. Check your toothpaste supplies at your home and office; those close to expiring can be donated to ensure they are used quickly. No product should ever go to waste! The same goes for your own clothes and home goods. Use the New Year as an opportunity to make sure you love everything in your home and use it all. Anything that no longer brings you joy, fits well, or is useful can be donated to another who will treasure it and make great use of it. Clearing your clutter and donating can bring happiness to another, and is a great way to start the year.
As hygienists, we have much to offer the world, and as the year resets, we can choose to reset our focus toward more personal growth. By making more of the opportunities around us, we can help others improve their lives while we gain the benefit of feeling amazing about our role. Consider how you want yourself, family, and friends to be treated should hardship be encountered and be that ray of positivity and respect. It truly is one small step to volunteer of yourself, and the return is magnified exponentially. Wishes for the best year yet for all!