The Sixth COVID Wave
A few weeks ago, many of us were looking forward to a COVID-free spring and summer; infection rates were dropping, mask mandates had lifted and family gatherings at the cottage were in the works. And suddenly things changed! As if out of nowhere, we find ourselves in yet another rising COVID wave. This time, the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is spreading rapidly across Ontario, and in fact, the rest of the world.
Since the Pandemic started in March 2020, people drastically changed their social habits, workplace routines and lifestyles. In December 2020, when the first vaccines rolled out, we saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us happily took second booster shots as well, all in the spirit of seeing a quick end to the Pandemic. But then Omicron and its variants started spreading like wildfire at the end of 2021, followed by third booster shots. Even kids became eligible for vaccines.
Exhausted from the winter and Pandemic lockdowns, optimism was finally in the air for spring and summer 2022. This week, we discovered we’re not off the roller coaster ride, yet. Infections and hospitalization rates are rising and public health units have started administering the fourth booster shot. So once again we have to recalibrate our nervous systems to adjust with what’s going on. When will all this end? Are you overwhelmed by the 6th COVID wave in Ontario? If so, you are not alone. Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue and fear are normal for the times.
Coping Through The Sixth COVID Wave
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Much of the uncertainty we faced when the Pandemic started was because of things we did not know. We have made much progress since then. The next few months cannot be compared to the spring and summer of 2020, when nobody was vaccinated and treatment models were just being discovered. We now have the benefit of hindsight. Even if we cannot completely return to the way life was before the Pandemic, a paradigm shift to reset what is normal for you will keep you from getting frustrated.
In this advanced stage of the Pandemic, individuals can move forward by making calculated decisions to regain control over their lives. For example, when the government lifted mask mandates a few weeks ago, some people opted, in trepidation, to continue wearing them in public places. Why? Because over the last two years, they became fearful of sharing the same “breathing space” as others. Letting their guard down suddenly, as if the virus no longer exists, was simply too drastic. Consequently, for them, it is perfectly acceptable to continue wearing masks until they decide otherwise.
Also, staying physically active and socialized can positively boost your mental health in tremendous ways. With the better weather around the corner, could you take your workout routine outdoors, rather than remain inside a gym? Perhaps your risk tolerance will allow you to socialize with a set number of friends for outdoor BBQ’s? If you are nervous about accepting an invitation to a cottage with friends outside of your bubble, then suggest coming up for the day and spending it on an outdoor hike.
For many of us, life is much less restrictive than it was two years ago. Actively nurturing a positive mindset and focusing on all that is right in your life can help you build emotional resilience to overcome challenges that we will inevitably continue to face, like the sixth COVID wave presently upon us.
When To Seek Professional Help
While many of us are cheering for a less restrictive world, this matter is not straightforward for everyone. High risk individuals like seniors and those who are immunocompromised may experience much higher degrees of anxiety as the world opens up. For them, a trip to the grocery store was safter when everyone wore masks. Consequently, their lives just got much more constrained when the government lifted mask mandates, reduced testing and opened up large entertainment venues. In fact, this matter is so important that we spoke to several media outlets about it recently.
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Although not part of the DSM-5 (the official classification standards for mental disorders), therapists are colloquially labelling conditions that clients are presenting with as a result of the Pandemic. “Coronaphobia“, for example is an excessive fear of contracting the virus; “COVID Stress Syndrome” is similar to PTSD. If you are feeling hopeless and believe the Pandemic will never end, or have given up completely on socializing and no longer enjoying things that gave you pleasure in the past, then reach out to your family doctor for an assessment of your mental health. Pandemic-triggered depression and anxiety are treatable with high success rates.
Treating Pandemic-Related Anxiety and Depression
Psychotherapy is the most effective way to manage anxiety and depression symptoms. In some cases, physicians may supplement it with medications, like Benzodiazepines which calm the brain and central nervous system, and/ or antidepressants like SSRI’s which directly impact brain hormones. Once your therapist has assessed your situation, he or she will formulate a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.
Psychotherapists undergo 6 – 10 years of post-secondary education specifically focusing on the complex dynamics of human relationships. This gives them much better insight into your emotional health. They can help you see and understand yourself in ways you cannot from your vantage. Research shows that the most important “active ingredient” in successful psychotherapy is the quality of the therapeutic relationship rather than the therapy techniques. Take advantage of free initial consultations to assess your therapist and ensure he or she is the right fit for you.
Therapy is an investment in your health and happiness. However, therapy fees are one reason why people avoid seeking help. We understand this, completely. Here’s how we charge for our time. We are happy to have a frank and open discussion with you about this to ensure we manage your care in the best way possible. Our services are covered by most extended benefit insurance plans, and often a few targeted therapy sessions may be all you require. We never keep you in therapy for longer than you need. To accommodate varying schedules we offer online and in-person therapy sessions during office hours, evenings and weekends.