new covid variant omicron

Omicron: How to maintain your calm in the face of a new variant

There is so much uncertainty around the new Covid-19 variant that people are understandably starting to feel anxious.

As soon as the World Health Organisation (WHO) named Omicron (B .1 .1 .529), a variant of concern, panic gripped the world as global leaders quickly began to take measures to limit its spread. Travelling restrictions are being imposed and scientists are racing to gather more data about the new COVID-19 variant. The big question on everyone’s mind is the efficacy of the current vaccines against Omicron. So far, the variant has been detected in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and South Africa, according to a report.

There is so much uncertainty around what’s going to happen that people are understandably starting to feel anxious. Jobs could be at risk, the elderly and children could be vulnerable to the new variant, and many of us who are just returning to our “normal lives” may have to readjust to the rules of the pandemic yet again. What’s more, the thought of keeping ourselves updated with the latest statistics and new emergency guidelines can be mentally exhausting.

After living for almost two years in uncertainty and fear, 2022 was being touted as a new beginning in the post-pandemic world. The collective hope was for things to come back to normal. It was time to restore the balance between work and personal life and put the pandemic behind us. But Omicron has crashed the party, or so it may seem. It can bring back the fear that had kept us awake at night. This begs the question: Are we going to relive the nightmare that we thought was over? Will 2022 begin like 2020 did? Maybe, maybe not.

What will happen is not in our hands, but how we respond to it is. So, how do you combat all this stress and stay calm in the face of this new variant?

Get your facts right

Oftentimes, the source of all our stress is the fake news that we tend to believe in. We take measures to protect ourselves believing the information to be true. Only to find out later that it’s not. This increases our stress and makes it nearly impossible to stay calm. The thing is there is so much misformation out there that it can be really difficult to separate fact from fiction. To handle the uncertainty around Omicron, the first thing we need to do is to get our facts right. This can be done by visiting a reliable source of information. That means visiting the official websites of trusted organisations such as WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other government-authorised sources. Having the right information keeps us up-to-date, which allows us to stay prepared for what’s to come and not panic.

Don’t give in to fearmongering

Fearmongering is an act of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. At one point or another, we’ve all been its victim. According to Nature, in 2020, “wild conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and the coronavirus began sprouting online. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist who has funded efforts to control the virus with treatments, vaccines and technology, had himself created the virus, argued one theory.”

This is what fearmongering is all about. Conspiracy theories are created to spread fear among people, which causes restlessness and stress. Chances are a few theories regarding Omicron are already out there. It’s up to us to understand that not every information that is circulating on the internet is the truth. We need to be wise while we are consuming information and not give in to fearmongering.

Stay in touch with family and friends

Nothing brings more comfort than the feeling of being with our loved ones. To know that we are not alone makes the journey a little easier. We feel safe knowing someone is there looking out for us. In case, one feels overwhelmed due to the uncertainty that the future may bring, talking about it can lessen their load. Hence, a good way to remain calm in difficult times is to stay connected with our friends and family.

Try a relaxation practice

Omicron has been found in quite a few countries so far. But authorities are taking necessary steps to stop it from spreading further. Thinking about it and getting stressed won’t do you any good. Yes, you can stay on top of things by keeping yourself informed but for that to happen, you need to have a clear mind. This is only possible when you are calm. Here, adopting healthy practices that can enable you to find inner peace in troubled times can help. Relaxation practices like meditation and breathing exercises can empower you to deal with negative feelings such as anxiety and depression.

Minimise news consumption

While staying updated with the latest turn of events is crucial in these times, too much news consumption can also be detrimental to your health. According to a study released by the Pew Research Center, “about seven in ten Americans (71%) say they need to take breaks from news about the coronavirus, and 43% say the news leaves them feeling worse emotionally.” To maintain the balance, limit the amount you spend consuming news. Pick one or two times a day to watch the news and turn it off at other times. Be sure to check reliable sources for your information. Doing so can help you stay sane and keep you updated with the latest turn of events at the same time.

Take care of your body

As much as you need to take care of your mental state to maintain your calm, you also need to look after your body. According to WHO, physical activity can be “a valuable tool to help you remain calm and continue to protect your health”, especially during troubled times. The world body recommends, “150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.” Moreover, when you are physically fit, you gain the confidence to execute your daily activities efficiently. This means you will be able to take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family from the new variant if it ever comes to that.

Caution is the key not panic

With the Omicron strain making news globally, the smart thing to do would be to exercise caution rather than making hasty decisions. It will do nothing but make your life stressful. When you are faced with a crisis, stay calm and deal with the problem rather than panicking and making things worse. There is still so much we don’t know about the new variant. So, let the authorities come up with more information, and meanwhile, you can follow the safety guidelines to keep yourself and your family safe.




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