By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

I’ve been checking in with many of my optical friends across the nation lately, just trying to see how they’ve weathered the pandemic and the easing of restrictions. What I’ve heard from several of our optical friends is that the gravity of this last year and half has been difficult to shoulder, and things feel a bit unsettled in general. And I can relate, I’m located in an area that has removed most mask restrictions except when in medical settings, which has led to me growing weary of having to defend my office’s position on mask wearing to clients on a sometimes-hourly basis. In these times, and to be honest, in most times in my personal life, I tend to lean a bit on sarcasm and humor to get me through when things feel weird. 

It turns out, I’m not alone. I recently happened upon a news interview with a local psychologist who was discussing how to deal with anxiety surrounding having increased social interactions with the lifting of restrictions, and she mentioned that leaning to humor might help to break the tension in an otherwise stressful situation. Her position was that sometimes it can put everyone at ease if you just start out by calling out the weirdness, and if you do so with humor you can often help bring calm to everyone around you and to yourself as well.

I started employing this in my office, and I have to tell you, it works beautifully. Case in point, I had an older gentleman come into the office and bark at me about our mask requirement, and I kindly replied, “I know, we are still requiring masks, but to keep things in perspective, I am still requiring everyone to wear pants also.” He smirked and giggled at me, and that quickly, we both felt better.

In case pants-related humor isn’t your style, there are certainly things you can call upon to help break the ice. Personally, I like puns. They’re harmless, silly fun and sometimes you can achieve the added bonus of cracking yourself up, too! One of my favorite standbys is, “Do you SEE what I did there?” Sorry, I can’t help myself when it comes to puns.

Of course, I can’t promise that a well-placed joke will work to dissolve the situation every time, however, it’s worth a try every now and again. Another technique is to try to see if they can SEE it from your perspective. I’ve been using the good ol’ “I hear what you’ve said, however, if you could put yourself in my shoes, you would see that there’s no way I can make everyone happy in this situation.” Sometimes, this works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it at least reminds people that you are the recipient of every opinion whichever side they find themselves on and that you’re likely frustrated, too, from dealing with this as often as you likely are.

But seriously, I want to take a moment to remind every single one of my optical friends (yes, you too!) to take good care of yourself, make sure you have someone to talk to, find an outlet for your time off, whether that is physical, mental, or creative, make sure you have someone who reminds you of how important you are to our optical family, and check in on your peers, they have the same frustrations you do. And never forget how important you are, we need you, your patients need you, too (even though they sometimes have a funny way of showing it!). Remember, it’s the same as on an airplane when they tell you that in the event of an emergency you should put your mask on first before helping others, I want to remind you to fill up your glass, put your mask on first, and take care of you!

Learn how to use engagement and connectivity between the patient and the entire practice to guide the patient and deliver the best optical retail experience with our CE, the Art of Dispensing, at This course is free, supported by an educational grant from DE RIGO REM and POLICE.