Covid cases are rising. We are so sick of the anxiety that is infecting our lives. We are into the third year of the pandemic and, with each newscast, we feel a little less safe. Omicron is a real concern which generates even more anxiety. We are so sick of the pandemic. Been here done this! We are vaccinated and yet we are still at risk for illness. We are completely burned out!
The famous line from Jaws, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” is back to haunt us. Just when you thought it was safe to celebrate the holidays with loved ones, a new variant shows up that disrupts everything. Despite reassuring words from some medical experts, it’s natural to be concerned about Omicron. For some people, this may be exacerbated by worsening mood and anxiety. The holidays remind us of loved ones who have died and some painful, traumatic memories. Many people see the holidays as a new beginning and Omicron can make us feel like we are regressing.
How do we temper the angst we feel when all we hear is depressing news? The first thing is to stick to a reliable news source. Panic-inducing headlines and newscasters scaring us, is definitely not helpful. The thought of more Covid triggers even more anxiety. We cannot change the variant, but we can change the way we look at the world.
• The vaccine is our best defense. Having a booster helps one feel that even if they get sick, it will be a mild case.
• Buying a good mask. The cloth masks don’t have the capacity to prevent illness the way the N95, KN95, and KN94 masks can do. Besides, with the Korean KN94 masks, there is a little more room to breathe!
• Get tested so that you can socialize.
• Tame your anxious mind. Meditate, walk, and figure out a way to prioritize your anxiety and keep it at bay.
• Avoid catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is imagining the most extreme and worst possible scenario in any given situation. If you find yourself going there, try giving yourself a reality check. Say to yourself, is there any evidence that I can find that this might not be true?
• Socialize at a distance. We are born to be social creatures and stress combined with boredom and isolation are hindering our lives. Make an effort to be social, even from a distance.
• Try not to get overwhelmed. More and more newscasts can overwhelm even the sanest of us. Stick to the CDC and other findings and stay away from newscasters whose job is to hype and alarm us.
• The pandemic has messed with our sense of time. Everyday becomes “blursday.” Set a few small future goals and dates so that you will have something to look forward to in the coming weeks.
• Our minds often spiral into “what-ifs,” and we end up worrying about worst-case scenarios. To counter this tendency, think of best-case and most-likely-case scenarios as well, and then manage how you might prepare for the most likely development.
• Do things differently on the weekends to define your work week and play time.
• Find meaning in your life. I know it is hard in these crazy times, but finding a meaning and purpose will help calm the chattering monkeys of anxiety.
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Laurie is the author of the book The Joke’s Over You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. She can be contacted via her website: www.lauriegrad.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Laurie-Burrows-Grad-2060571070637592/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lauriegrad/