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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people in a variety of ways, some of which we are still discovering. Virtually everyone has suffered some form of a hardship over the past nine months. These include physical hardships, as many have fallen ill themselves and/or have lost loved ones to COVID-19. These include work-related hardships, like losing one’s job, or adapting to working from home while balancing a frenzied home life with children being educated online.   

But there are also the mental hardships, which can be more difficult to identify.  As the pandemic continues, many are missing the normalcy of social interactions and other activities outside the home.

Mental health professionals warn about the psychological effect the pandemic is having on people’s mental health and well-being.  Economic stress, anxiety and depression brought on by being home alone, and/or dealing with the loss of loved ones are all likely to have a significant impact on people. Mental health professionals also note that, as the pandemic rages on, the increase in mental health problems as a result of stress from social isolation and other COVID-19 related life changes is contributing to an increase in substance use and misuse. 

Although turning to alcohol and/or drugs may temporarily help you feel better, use of these substances, especially in higher frequency / amount, will ultimately make you feel worse and could lead to addiction and other mental health issues. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with life circumstances can become a habit that leads to substance abuse or addiction. Additionally, many people who were already experiencing mental health issues prior to the pandemic may be using drugs or alcohol more in an attempt to self-medicate and cope with symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Therefore, it is imperative that people focus on developing and maintaining healthy habits and activities to help alleviate stress/anxiety/depression instead.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Set limits with work and school so they do not blend into other areas of your life.
  • Limit exposure to social media and watching news. If you must watch the news, then set a specific time and only a specific channel. Don’t inundate yourself information from a variety of sources as it will only add to the stress.
  • Get moving. Take a walk, go for a run or a bike ride, do an exercise video or yoga.
  • Maintain healthy eating habits. Plan and cook healthy recipes and maintain normal meal times.
  • Keep connected. Talk to friends and family via videoconferencing.
  • Start a hobby. This is a great time for creativity. This will help with stress relief and positive thinking. 

Remember that everyone is going through some form of hardship right now as a result of the pandemic, so reaching out to loved ones and providing that much needed reminder that they aren’t alone and have support is also very helpful. 

If you or someone you care about is starting or increasing use of alcohol or other substances during the pandemic, please contact your healthcare provider to discuss various options for treatment and support.

 



We’d like to support our patients in making telehealth visits as easy and as valuable as possible. Please review the tips below in order to best prepare for your visit. 

  1. Choose your tech.

It is helpful to decide ahead of time what device you may use for your telemedicine visit. The easiest method that we suggest is using the texted link that you will receive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. The link will open the appointment directly in the browser of your smartphone without requiring you to download any additional apps or login to any accounts. If this method does not work for you, then you can use a computer, laptop, or tablet to sign into your patient portal either through our website, www.rwwc.com, or the app ‘healow’ to attend your appointment. Having a reliable internet connection is also important.

  1. Set-up prior to your appointment.

Make sure you ask your provider’s office about any technology set up that may need to occur ahead of your telemedicine visit. This may include downloading an app or creating a new account. Neither of these are required for Rittenhouse Women’s Wellness Center, however if you are referred to a specialist, their setup may differ from ours. You should ask for a contact number in case there is a problem during your telemedicine visit. Doing this will reduce the stress of managing new technology during the actual telemedicine visit.

  1. Choose a quiet, private place.

Find a place for your appointment that is quiet so you can hear your provider, and they in turn can hear you. This will reduce distractions and interruptions, making your appointment more productive.

  1. Prepare your medical history. 

Just as in an in-person visit, having accurate medical history available is helpful. If you have seen other providers, been to the ER or had a hospitalization- make sure to share the details with your providers. 

  1. Obtain vital signs.

If you are able to, it is helpful to obtain vital signs prior to your appointment. If you have an electronic blood pressure cuff, you can obtain blood pressure and heart rate. You can take your weight and temperature as well at home and report during your telemedicine visit. You can also take pictures of any rashes or skin lesions you have questions about. 

  1. Write down questions ahead of time.

The stress of a new type of visit can be a distraction when trying to remember all the things you may want to ask your physician. Writing down important questions you have for your physician ahead of time will help you remember them during your visit.

  1. At the end of your telemedicine visit, set up a follow-up visit as necessary.


In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shutting down, it may feel hard to escape the sense of panic around Covid-19. Stress and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It can also have a profound effect on your immune system, so it’s important for both your physical and mental health that you prioritize your self-care. Coping with your own stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

The CDC states that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Why am I feeling so stressed?

From a basic biological perspective, stress is a sign that our body is trying to keep us safe. Our sympathetic nervous system kicks into “fight or flight” mode when we feel like we may be in harm’s way or are experiencing a real or imagined threat. Physically, this can cause an increase in adrenaline, heart racing, sweating, etc, and mentally keep us hyper-aware, which can make it hard to sleep because of spiraling thoughts. While these symptoms can often be alarming, it is our body’s natural response to a perceived threat. Fortunately, we can reduce our stress and anxiety through some actions we talk about below.

How can I ease my anxiety?

  1. Get enough rest.

While you may be tempted to stay up following the news, it’s more important to let your body rest. Getting adequate sleep will allow your body to perform at its very best and fend off potential viruses.

  1. Keep exercising. High levels of cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, can cause your immune system to be less effective. Exercise can help reduce elevated cortisol levels, as well as trigger the release of endorphins, boosting your overall mood and happiness. Head outside for a run, bike ride, or another form of exercise that doesn’t require close contact with others.
  2. Eat well. It’s easy when stressed to let your diet slide and turn to less nutritious comfort foods. When it comes to managing your anxiety, however, a balanced diet is vital for your health. Focus on eating fresh, unprocessed, whole foods in order to maintain a strong immune system.
  3. Limiting alcohol and other substances. While having a glass or two of wine might feel like a good way to take the edge off of a stressful day, alcohol in any amount can make it difficult to get restful sleep. This can also be true with other substances, like CBD and marijuana. Alcohol is also a depressant, which might lead to increased anxiety and a poor mood. Additionally, nicotine not only has a negative effect on your lungs, but can also disrupt your sleep.
  4. Spend time with friends and family. Research shows that quality time with people you care about can boost your happiness level. If you are self-quarantined or even just working remotely, try to still connect with your friends and family through video chat or phone calls. Try not to talk about Covid-19, talk about pleasant things! Find opportunities to laugh. Talk about books, podcasts, or even the last show you watched on Netflix.
  5. Practice Mindfulness. When we get worried, stressed or anxious, we tend to breathe shallowly. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to notice your breathing. Slow it down with a series of long deep breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Stress can also cause us to tense up. When you recognize that you are worried, stressed or anxious, try a “body scan”. Start from the top of your head and take note of any stress or tension in your muscles. Is your face pinched? Are you clenching your jaw? Are your shoulders up at your ears? Are you hunched forward? Do you feel any tension in your belly, back, legs, or feet? Go through the body, notice where you are holding your stress, and try to let it go.
  6. Implement a digital detox. While you will understandably want to keep up-to-date on the latest guidance from health authorities, it’s important to strike a balance between staying informed and consuming everything in your newsfeed. If endless scrolling leaves you feeling anxious and overwhelmed, it may be time to take a break and unplug. Set aside a certain part of the day specifically for news consumption and give yourself a time limit. Some social media platforms even allow you to create those boundaries within their apps.

Can medication help me cope?

Try the above techniques before considering medication, as most medications for anxiety disorders (usually SSRIs) often take 4-6 weeks to take effect, and may not be the best option for temporary stresses, like those caused by Covid-19. Additionally, more short-acting anti-anxiety medications like Xanax are not meant to be taken on a daily basis and can be addictive. Our hope is that by practicing self-care, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and taking a break from the news and social media, you will be able to manage your anxiety without medication. If you’re not finding these approaches to be effective, consider booking a telemedicine appointment with one of our providers for guidance on the best options to further address your mental health.

References:

https://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/coronavirus-anxiety

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html



Understanding the basics of hygiene is crucial to maintaining health and preventing disease. Hygiene has been THE hot topic since the Coronavirus pandemic began. While our top hygiene exercise is currently social distancing, the Center for Disease Control(CDC) has put emphasis on practices such as washing your hands often and for 20 seconds at a time, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and staying home if you are sick.

While these are some of the most important tips, there are countless hygiene rules that we should be following throughout our everyday lives. There are two categories to describe these types of hygiene: Personal and Domestic.

Personal Hygiene

Personal Hygiene is how you take care of your body. These basic habits minimize the risk of infection and also enhance overall health.

  • Bathe regularly: Wash your body and hair often. Your body is constantly shedding skin, and that skin needs to come off.
  • Trim your nails: Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Brush and floss your teeth: At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Wash your hands: We all know this one… Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available.
  • Sleep: Get plenty of rest. At least 8 hours. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system.

Domestic Hygiene

It is also important that everything in your living space is kept clean. Rubbish and dirt build up quicker than most people realize, allowing germs and parasites to multiply and grow. This will lead to people living in the space getting sick.

Domestic hygiene activities include all the jobs which are done to keep the household and people’s clothes and bedding clean.

  • Sweeping and washing floors
  • Dusting all surfaces
  • Cleaning toilets, showers and sinks
  • Washing clothes and bedding
  • Washing dishes and cooking utensils after meals
  • Washing your pets and cleaning up after them

Additional steps that you can take to keep your household clean include:

  • Taking off shoes before entering your home: This helps lessen the chances of bringing outside bacteria into the home (ie. Animal droppings, dust, dirt, mud etc.) At the very least, keep your shoes off furniture.
  • Donating or throwing away things you don’t need: A cluttered home provides more space for bacteria to hide and grow.
  • Keeping a schedule: If you have a busy calendar, schedule time to clean so that it does not get overlooked or pushed off.

References:



If you’re a parent who is taking their kids somewhere warm for their spring break vacation, or you are finally treating yourself to that getaway vaca, look no further because the Dermacenter Medical Spa is here to tell you how to keep your skin safe in the sun!

Sure, going on vacation is a blast, and it feels wonderful to soak up all that natural Vit D, but the last thing you want is to come back with more sun spots, freckles, or worse.. a sunburn! To help keep your skin protected while enjoying beach days, we have created a short list of tips to help you coming back relaxed with no sun damage!

Pack a face sunscreen separate from your body sunscreen!

It’s important that you use at least an SPF 30 on your body (in a perfect world you would use SPF 50), but when it comes to your face it is not only important to use SPF 50 but to make sure it has either ingredient: Zinc or Titanium. Having either of these ingredients in your SPF turns your sunscreen into a physical sunblock. Physical sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays, which not only prevent sunburns but prevents your skin from aging! It’s also important to invest in a good facial sunscreen so that you don’t end up having other issues, like congestion and acne breakouts!

Our favorite products we carry are Epionce Tinted SPF 50 and GLO Tinted SPF 30. We love the tinted SPF, because it gives you a nice glow at the beach without having to wear make up!

Reapply your sunscreen!

Make sure you are reapplying your sunscreen at least every two hours (more often if you go into the water). Water is reflective, and can put your skin at a higher risk of getting burned. By reapplying your sunscreen at least every two hours, you can prevent your skin from getting burned!

Your moisturizer that has sunscreen in it is not good enough!

When you really think about what your moisturizer is doing for you (penetrates your skin to moisturize), and what your sunblock is doing for you (sits on your skin acting like a barrier to protect you from the sun). Ask yourself, how can one product be doing both effectively!? Exactly, it can’t!! Make sure your sunblock is separate from your moisturizer, and should be the last thing that goes on your face, prior to your make up!

Buy yourself a fabulous new hat

Not only are big hats in this season, but talk about skin protection!! Not only will you look glamorous on the beach, but your face will thank you!

What happens if you end up with sun spots on your face?

We can remove sunspots, freckles, age spots with a laser treatment called IPL. Before getting this treatment, you need to make sure you do not have tan skin when you get this treatment done. You must have been out of the sun for at least 4 weeks, not be on any photosensitizing medications, and not have used any retinol type products in the past week. Our consultations are free, so give us a call at 215-735-7990 or stop by the front desk to schedule your consultation today!



Remember, your pharmacist is a part of your healthcare provider team. It is important that you take the opportunity to ask your pharmacist key questions that will help you understand your prescribed therapy. How much you know about your prescribed medication will help empower you to optimize the way you comply with your therapy and potentially enhance the intended therapeutic benefit. Here are a few questions to ask your pharmacist regarding your prescribed medications:

  • Will this prescription interact with my current medications?
  • When should I ideally take this medication?
  • How should I take this medication; ie. With or without food, avoiding certain foods…
  • What are some side effects (adverse events) that I should be aware of?
  • Is the dose for this medication fixed? Or may I adjust based on my symptoms?
  • Are there generic forms for this medication with identical therapeutic benefit?
  • I take …(mention any over the counter supplements you may be taking)…, will any of these over the counter supplements potentially interact with this prescription medication?
  • If I miss a dose, should I attempt to make up for it by taking it once I remember, or should I stick with the prescription schedule allowing for a missed dose?
  • Is there anything specific to this medication that I haven’t considered that I should know about? Please assume that even the most elementary points are of interest to me.

Your healthcare provider team works hard to collaborate, optimize and calculate your therapy. You should know that you are also an integral factor in your therapeutic outcomes. Join the team by ensuring you ask the questions above and become an engaged team member for your greater health outcomes.



As winter sets in and we enter the coldest months of the season, we often start to feel and see the effects on our health. Winter poses unique health problems that we do not generally see throughout the year due to colder temperatures, less hours of daylight and less access to fresh and healthy foods. If we are aware of what may be coming our way over the next few months implementing a few easy things into your life can prevent winter from getting the best of you.

  • Common cold/flu/sore throat/cough

It is no surprise to anyone that you are more likely to get sick during the winter and this year has been especially bad for many of our patients. While the cold weather does not cause the viruses, we are spending more time indoors and in close proximity of each other, which allows viruses to spread easily. The cardinal rule to avoiding viruses and bacteria is hand washing. Whether you work in an open plan office, ride SEPTA to work or stay at home with your children, washing hands often and thoroughly with warm soapy water can help keep many of the viruses and bacteria at bay. As with any illness, when you start to feel that tickle in your throat or increase in fatigue, listen to your body. It is best not to try to push through. Start to increase hydration, rest and limit exposure to the cold air. If you are feeling sick, we always recommend avoiding public spaces to protect others around you. If you have been feeling unwell for a few days or weeks and feel you need to be evaluated in our office, we try to keep appointment slots open daily for you to be seen.

  • Dry skin

With increase in hand washing and a decrease in moisture in the air our skin starts to dry and can sometimes even crack. Using an unscented cream or Vaseline on the dry areas between hand washing or bathing can help replenish the skins hydration. Another simple solution for dry skin is increasing water intake, this will rehydrate your skin from inside out. Avoid harsh soaps, and use warm water rather than hot water when bathing to prevent stripping your skin of its natural moisture. It is also recommended to use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep to counter the dry air coming from heaters.

  • Poor indoor air quality

We tend to spend more time indoors with windows shut and heaters going during the winter. To ensure that the air you are breathing is clean make sure to change your air filters, vacuum and dust surfaces more often than normal and wash your bed linens regularly. If you are using heaters or have a fireplace, make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.

  • Seasonal depression or winter blues

Even if you do not have seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder it is not uncommon to feel more lethargic and less happy during the winter months. Days are shorter and nights are longer and getting into sunlight and outside regularly can be a challenge. Do you best to stick to your normal routine throughout the year, plan activities to get you out of the house and keep up with exercise and activity. It can feel hard to get up and go in the winter, but finding a friend or partner to do this with you can help you get there and keep your mood lifted.

  • Weight gain

As winter sets in we start to lean into comfort foods and foods that are convenient. There is also a lack of fresh vegetables in the winter that make our meals less bright and healthy. Make sure to make your meals as colorful as possible with a variety of vegetables and lean proteins. Canned and frozen vegetables can make that easier during winter months or try a new winter vegetable or recipe you have never tried before! And as always, get out and get moving for at least 30 minutes per day.

Be proactive about your health this season. We are still offering flu vaccines at the office and it is not too late to get yours. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Stay active and engaged with friends and family. And as always, stay hydrated and listen to your body when it needs a bit more rest than normal.



Celebrating American Heart Month every February provides an annual opportunity to reflect on our lifestyle choices, and how these impact our cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading killer of both men and women in the U.S. (and increasingly, worldwide).  CVD includes Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).  Many of the biggest risk factors for CVD-related morbidity and mortality are preventable and modifiable.  Smoking, overweight/obesity, poor diet, and inactivity all contribute to increased CVD risk.  Modifying these risk factors, in turn, can prevent/improve other well-known risks, including Hypertension, Diabetes, and High cholesterol.

Smoking is perhaps the biggest modifiable risk factor for CVD—don’t start!  Stopping smoking will start lowering one’s cardiovascular risk within months, and within years, a former smoker’s risk is equivalent to that of a nonsmoker.  It really is never too late to quit, from a cardiovascular perspective.

Improving one’s diet improves heart heath independently, but also by reducing other CVD risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Following a diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber, monounsaturated fats, and foods with a low glycemic index, as well as 2-3 servings of seafood weekly (a great source of omega-3 fatty acids), is advised.  The Mediterranean Diet is a great example of a heart-healthy diet strategy.

Physical activity is one of the most critical tools for reducing one’s CVD risk and for weight loss.  Most experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week for heart health (less if you are exercising more vigorously).  Conversely, studies have also shown that prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting at work or watching TV, can increase your cardiovascular risk significantly.  The answer—get up and get moving!   Even lower-intensity exercise such as brisk walking makes a difference.

Making therapeutic lifestyle changes can have a tremendous impact on your cardiovascular health.  It can be daunting to alter longstanding habits, but the benefits are immeasurable.  Enlist help if you need it—see a nutritionist, get a trainer, set up a lunchtime walking date with a coworker or an office appointment to discuss medication for smoking cessation—whatever it takes!   Your heart is worth it!



It is after hours and you are experiencing health-related concerns. Your PCP is not available; you have two options: urgent care or emergency room.  What is the difference and which one should you choose?

Simply put, the difference is the severity of the health problem. If the condition is life-threatening and your care may require rapid or advanced treatments, go to an emergency room. If you have a minor illness or injury that needs to be treated right away, but is not a true emergency, go to an urgent care.

At Rittenhouse Women’s Wellness Center, we encourage all of our patients to contact us if you are experiencing any type of health related issue. While in most cases we will recommend you come into our office to be evaluated, sometimes we will not be able to see you as quickly as an urgent care or an emergency room would. Even if we cannot be the ones to see you, we want to help you make a decision on what to do next.

As a guide…

Here are symptoms that are best evaluated in an urgent care:

  • Fever without a rash
  • Vomiting or persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Dehydration
  • Moderate flu-like symptoms
  • Sprains and strains
  • Small cuts that may require stitches

Here are symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness/numbness on one side
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting/change in mental state
  • Serious burns
  • Head or eye injury
  • Concussion/confusion
  • Broken bones and dislocated joints
  • Fever with a rash
  • Seizures
  • Severe cuts that may require stitches
  • Facial lacerations
  • Severe cold or flu symptoms
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy


Even though it is often referred to as, “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holiday season can also be very challenging for many.

While the festivities and the advent of a new year are fun and exciting, the holidays also present an endless amount of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, to name just a few.  As a result, many people find that they are faced with an increase in stress, anxiety and depression throughout the holiday season.  In fact, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association, eight out of ten people anticipate increased stress over the holidays. In some cases, the increase in stress and anxiety may even lead to depression.

However, there are many ways to minimize stress, anxiety and depression so you can relax and enjoy this time of year.  Try out some (or all!) of these tips for a happy and healthy holiday season:

  1. Be intentional with your actions and time. The first step toward discipline begins with you getting organized. Using a schedule is your best friend. But, each thing that fills a slot on your scheduling needs to be for a particular reason, not “just because.”
  2. Be selfish … in prioritizing your well-being. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself! One of the first things people let go around this time of the year are their healthy routines and behaviors.  You don’t need to be perfect with your routine, but strive for consistency.
  3. Be health-conscious. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
  4. Get plenty of sleep. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  5. Get moving! Incorporate regular physical activity into each day. Even a 20 minute walk can help with fighting off anxiety and stress.
  6. Make some time for yourself. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring your inner calm.
  7. Be realistic about your expectations. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. Life is messy, and beauty lies in the unexpected.
  8. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

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1632 Pine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-735-7992
Fax: 215-735-7991
Email: info@rwwc.com

Hours

Monday – Friday:  8am – 8pm

Saturday: 9am – 2pm

Sunday: Closed

Copyright by Rittenhouse Women's Wellness Center. All rights reserved.