Two years into the pandemic, another variant poses threats to people everywhere. It’s only natural to feel distressed and worried, even if you don’t run a severe risk of complications.
What can you do to mitigate your stress and keep a cool head? Here are six anxiety management tips to follow during the COVID-19 Omicron surge.
1. Mitigate Your Risks
The best way to ease anxiety about the omicron variant is to mitigate your risk as much as possible. This process starts with vaccination. If you haven’t yet gotten your shot or a booster, you can do so for free. Check the government’s free website to find a location near you — many chain drug stores and health clinics offer the jab.
Vaccination isn’t a guarantee against infection, but it can prevent severe illness. Roughly 85% of COVID-19 patients develop no symptoms or those resembling the flu. Your chances of landing in the hospital increase if you have no antibodies.
Please continue to wear your mask in indoor public spaces, even if it isn’t required. Doing so offers you protection, not just those around you. Besides, you don’t know who’s vaccinated, who’s not, or the reason for their status. It takes little to protect someone you don’t know, especially since you could spread the virus without knowing that you’re sick.
2. Talk To Your Employer
Have you received the “all hands on deck” email yet? Many companies have already returned to in-office work while others vacillate back and forth. However, you might never have a better time than now to request more flexible working conditions if you feel uncomfortable clocking in and sharing that much time indoors with others outside of your immediate family.
Consider your options even if your role typically involves facing customers. For example, some nurses never see the patients that they treat. They work in telemedicine, helping people decide whether to go to the emergency room or treat mild-to-moderate symptoms at home. Even folks who work in food service might be able to switch from serving to delivery driving, depending on their employer’s business model.
3. Move Things Outdoors
COVID-19, including the highly contagious omicron variant, spreads through respiratory droplets. Inside, these aerosols have nowhere to go, particularly in buildings with inadequate ventilation. Outside, they have unlimited space to dissipate. Your chances of infection go down considerably when you participate in outdoor activities.
Winter weather can make it more challenging to move some activities outdoors, but you can get creative. Firepits, specialty lamps and heated floors can transform patios from frozen tundras to pleasant collaborative spaces.
4. Establish Check-Ins With Vulnerable Individuals
Your anxiety during the COVID-19 omicron surge might have less to do with your fears of getting sick than they do with your worries about vulnerable family members. The solution? Set up check-in times to connect with those who don’t live with you.
Doing so can help you ease stress in two ways. One, it assuages your fears that the person you love is okay. Furthermore, people are social animals, and loneliness can increase anxiety symptoms. Connecting with someone you care about reinforces your support system, making you feel more secure.
5. Keep Your Body Moving
Exercise may be the ultimate way to mitigate anxious feelings. Why? It taps into the mechanism mother nature blessed humans with for escaping danger, fight or flight. It lets your body release hormones like cortisol before they build up in your body, causing adverse effects that further elevate your stress levels.
This advice doesn’t mean you need to lace up your tennis shoes and head out in a blizzard. You can get plenty of workouts in the privacy of your living room. Check out one of today’s top fitness apps if the thought of digging out your car to drive to the gym leaves you shivering before you reach your front door.
6. Switch Up Your Nightcap
You might think, “If I can just get through this day, a nice drink will relax me into sleep.” Please reconsider that notion. While alcohol temporarily produces calm by impacting neurotransmitter levels, your anxiety returns with a vengeance when they try to return to equilibrium the next morning. You could find yourself feeling more nervous right before you have to head out the door.
Instead, end your day with a soothing cup of chamomile and lavender tea, perhaps with a touch of warm milk for good measure. Valerian, lemongrass and passionflower are other relaxing herbs to add to an evening cuppa to ease your nerves and help you sleep without the morning-after anxiety backlash.
Anxiety Management Tips During Omicron
After two years of living through a pandemic, few people would blame you for having slightly raw nerves. However, you can’t let fear prevent you from living your life. Mitigate your fears by embracing the six anxiety management tips above during the COVID-19 omicron surge.