We’ve come a long way since December 2020 with vaccines and medications to fight Covid, but breakthrough cases are increasing and so are feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. The Omicron variant is bringing school closures, quarantines, and questions about the return to office in January for many. The past 22+ months have been a rollercoaster to say the least. What does all of this do to our mental health, and how can we work towards a sense of calm and peace when things seem so chaotic?
It’s ok to feel uncertain
There’s a lot we know about the Omicron variant, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. The unknown often triggers anxiety and stress (similar to those early days in March 2020), as well as loneliness, depression, and maybe grief if you’ve lost someone to the virus. It’s important to remember it’s perfectly normal to feel however you’re feeling, and bringing awareness to your feelings can actually help bring relief.
Focus on what you can control
When so much is in flux and unknown, it’s important to focus on the things you can control; like wearing a mask indoors, getting vaccinated (suggested) if you can, and ensuring everyone in your family does the same. By feeling a sense of control with the ‘small stuff’ you’ll feel more confident knowing you’re doing all you can to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Making plans during this time is tricky; with Omicron overlapping with the holidays it’s hard to commit to plans, especially if friends and family have different levels of worry around Covid. What’s important is you do what’s best for yourself and your family. Knowing how unpredictable the virus is and its effect on travel and social gatherings, remind yourself there’s a chance you’ll have to stay home, and that’s ok. Create a list of movies you’ve been meaning to see, restaurants to order from, or fun meals you’ve wanted to make. Then, if your New Years Eve party gets canceled, you’ll have some options to look forward to at home.
Protect yourself from triggers
Maybe that means silencing your news alerts after 5 pm, or turning down an invitation for a (crowded) holiday party. By recognizing things or people who trigger your anxiety during this time of heightened nerves and getting ahead of them, you’ll protect yourself and mental well being.
Talk to someone
At Doctor On Demand by Included Health we have licensed therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in anxiety, depression, and grief and loss. You may benefit from talking to someone outside of your close family and friends about your feelings during this time of continued uncertainty. And we’re available 24/7, everyday of the year, including holidays.
About the author
Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who passionately believes access to mental health treatment should be available to everyone. She completed her undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University, followed by medical school and residency training at New York University School of Medicine. She then completed a fellowship in Public Psychiatry at Columbia University. She has also done research on women’s mental health issues. Her approach to treatment is patient-centered and recovery-focused, dedicated to reducing mental health stigma and providing treatments that help patients maintain the quality of life they deserve.