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Optimizing Your Mental Health During Omicron

Omicron appears to be less severe than previous variants, yet its high level of contagion leaves many people on edge. Audiences feel compelled to listen for Omicron news. Many individuals find themselves in a constant state of unrest given the increased rate of spread as well as fear of being infected. Additionally, an increased level of distress exists with the quantity of media released and attempting to decipher whom to trust. At times, people feel obliged to constantly view the news, lending to a constant state of panic and alarm.

The preoccupation with Omicron is common, if that describes your behavior, you are not alone. If you are experiencing a degree of uneasiness about the new variant aggravated by a compulsion to keep up with the latest news, here are some tips to enhance and improve your mental wellbeing.

Fortify Your Mental Health
In these difficult times, it is easy to be distracted from prioritizing our happiness and mental stability. Our own mental health is every bit as important as our physical health and both are very much interconnected. To follow are some suggestions to optimize mental well-being during these tumultuous times.

Restrict TV News and Internet News
Media is filled with rehashed Omicron news. A large portion is hype, instilling and promoting fear, and keeping you tuned in for the next advertisement. Be strong, limit media consumption, and step away from the constant barrage of news cloaked as important information. Instead, select a specific allotted amount of time per day and keep track of your news consumption so that you may be more mindful and present in other meaningful daily tasks.

Exercise
It is absolutely vital to stay active and exercise. By helping your physical health through exercise, you are boosting your mental health in parallel. Exercise is an essential tool that optimizes both mind and body. To retain interest and spirits high while exercising, it is helpful to vary routines – this may include alternating aerobic exercises, strength training, or joining a group class in a safe environment. Additionally, socialization combined with exercise is an ideal activity that can create a sense of kinship while increasing natural endorphins in our body.

Calm yourself with mindfulness
Exercise not only builds physical muscle and strength, it also optimizes our ability to be focused and mindful in the here and now. Mindfulness frees us from being constantly distracted by our surroundings such as media or news and allows us to focus on the task at hand. When in a state of mindfulness, there is no need to focus on how your current state relates to some future event nor should you ponder how your current mindset reminds you of your past. Be like a camera observing events without judgement. What you see may surprise you. Mindfulness aids in slowing our minds and becoming aware and appreciative of small things around us that enhance our well-being. The more awareness we gain, the more we can appreciate what we have. This practice in turn decreases our anxiety as we bring our mind back to the present moment.

Meditate
One of the most effective ways to anker ourselves in the current moment is our breath. Breath is one of our most powerful tools as it is always with us. Focus on deep breathing, let a feeling of relaxation slowly descend with each breath from head to toe. As you breathe, count down from 10 and focus on relaxing each body part. When relaxed, recall a time in your life that you were happy. Recreate as much of the happy scene as you can. Decide that you choose to be happy. Few humans have faced as many troubling events as Lincoln, yet he wisely observed, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Make up your mind to be happy; when the opportunity presents itself, you will choose that path.

Take a Positive Perspective

Rather than think of being permanently trapped in a depressing state, do something, once a day, that is positive like calling a friend or cleaning your desk. Doing just one new satisfying activity a day can lead to a sense of accomplishment. Demonstrate to yourself that you are in control.

Keeping it all in perspective
Throughout history, humans have confronted horrible events. Devastating plagues, famines, economic disasters and brutal wars are all part of our history. Humanity has been able to summon its internal fortitude to survive and grow back stronger. Remember, our innate human resourcefulness always exists. We will survive Omicron and any variants that follow.

Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional therapist
If anxiety or mood changes become unmanageable, do not hesitant and reach out to a professional. Many licensed therapists and psychiatrists have if not in person, telehealth options available. Have no hesitancy in taking advantage of such services when you feel like your quality of life is being compromised.

Dr. Danielle Kamis is a lifestyle psychiatrist who treats patients in her private practice in Los Altos, CA. She specializes in the treatment of sleep problems, women’s wellness, and athletes, as well as practices cognitive behavioral therapy. For further information please visit kamismd.com or send an email to [email protected]

Danielle Kamis, MD January 17, 2022