How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Omicron Surge

The central theses

  • It is normal to even expect to struggle during a massive global strategy like the current pandemic.
  • This latest Omicron winter wave is likely to create complicated emotions.
  • It can help to fully understand your feelings and to talk to someone about them.

Just as we are stepping into the depths of the winter season, a new surge in falls is beginning to unfold. The most recently identified COVID variant, Omicron, has only been known for a little more than a month, but already has the highest rate of new cases since the start of the pandemic in the USA

Jeremy Lormis, PhD, LPC, senior faculty advisor for the mental health clinical counseling program at the University of Phoenix, told Verywell that just a week before Christmas he found out from some customers their vacation plans were due to the virus.

“Quite a part of her family became infected with COVID, so other family members were just scared and now there is this buildup,” he said. “[People are wondering if] every four to six months, so will life be. Will there just be one new variant after the other? ”

Researchers are collecting data to better understand Omicron, but it has been shown that it spreads more easily than the original virus and can cause infections regardless of vaccination status. Still, the vaccines protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Regardless of how Omicron works, the mental health consequences are certain. COVID whiplash, a fading sense of hope, and seasonal depression all collide to create the perfect storm for many people. As Lormis said, dealing with the seemingly endless nature of the pandemic could be especially difficult in the months ahead.

While vaccines, boosters, and pills give us tools to manage and prevent further suffering, it is perfectly reasonable to struggle during a massive global tragedy. If and when you have the time, Lormis has suggested a few activities that you can work into your day to help you cope with it and feel better.

Very well: How is this surge likely to affect mental health?

Lormis: I think there is a lot of fear. People just aren’t sure what the future will bring. They may not be able to be with their family when they want to or they may be reminded of loss. All of these things can be put together. And then you add to this seasonal effect and fatigue. This could be a very challenging time.

Very well: How can people deal with difficulties?

Lormis: I don’t think there is a recipe that works for everyone. Some of that is just understanding ourselves and what works. Self-awareness begins with realizing, “Hey, I feel very anxious about it in a way that I didn’t, or I feel really sad in a way that I didn’t.” Then pause long enough to do a self-assessment and confirm it. Sometimes we tend to pretend they don’t exist.

There is a large percentage of people in the United States who think that if they experience a physical symptom or internal pain they think that if they ignore it long enough they will go away. We tend to do that with mental health too.

The tendency is to think, “Maybe I’m a little bit scared or a little bit sad, but I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.” Sometimes it works like that, but there are times when it doesn’t work. It can help to be aware of it. We can try to be honest with ourselves and say, “You know what? I’m kind of sad, afraid, worried, or lonely right now.”

The next step goes hand in hand with recognition. Confidence means not being afraid to talk to someone about it. That someone could be a close friend or family member that you can trust. Just talking about it can sometimes help. You can say, “This latest version of the coronavirus is now starting to affect our ability to interact with friends and get involved in social settings. I’m just really sick of it. I am frustrated and concerned if life ever comes to an end “will be as it was before.”

Very well: So first acknowledge what’s going on inside and then talk about it with someone you trust. What’s next?

Lormis: You have to be careful not to neglect to take care of yourself. It can be as easy as being outside on a sunny day. Even when it’s cold, when the sun is shining, go outside. If you can walk, any type of exercise is good. Exercise offers a very natural formula for a mood boost due to the released endorphins. You don’t need to do any extreme training. A simple walk can help.

So when you start to think, “I am really isolated and lonely. I’m really sad, ”it might be a good time to just open the door, go outside, take a walk and see the world around you.

You should also participate in self-care in a broader sense. What would you like to do? Do you do the things that make you happy In winter people lose their rhythm because they become more sedentary. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about an indoor hobby. Engaging in hobbies, learning a new skill, learning something new can help.

I read an interesting article yesterday about Martha Stewart – one of the things that helped her in prison was learning to knit. And I thought whenever we’re in an environment where we can’t be outside and do the things we love to do, we can learn a new skill. We can get involved. Not that I’m going to crochet, but maybe someone would want to pick that up.

There are also creative ways to stay socially connected. We heard this topic from the beginning: How can you still connect creatively with friends and family?

I mentioned earlier that there was a client I worked with. This week, at the last minute, her Christmas plans have completely fallen apart. And so I asked, “How can you rebuild it any other way?” She has a few roommates and they’re all sticking together, so I suggested that maybe they start a new tradition with friends. Christmas doesn’t usually look like this to them because they aren’t with their families the way they’d like, but they could bond anyway. They could still enjoy the day.

It’s not a recipe for everyone. If you try something and it doesn’t help, do something else. And then there may come a time when we want to go into therapy.

Very well: When should someone consider turning to therapy?

Lormis: If you find yourself in a place where you seem really anxious, and anxiety builds and your ability to carry out your work-related tasks or relationships, it may be time to see a therapist. If your sadness just doesn’t go away, get in touch. It doesn’t have to be the first step, but it is an option and can prove very helpful and useful.

There are great treatment options that have been found to be very helpful and very effective. And it’s not that you have to be in therapy for the rest of your life. Sometimes four, five, or eight sessions are enough to give you a little boost.

The information in this article is current as of the date indicated, which means more recent information may be available by the time you read this. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.

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