Help with Vulnerability and Managing Uncertainty

Shouldn’t we be over this all by now? The emergence of the omicron variant has led to a lot of anxiety and in some situations even panic. It’s understandable. We’ve been waiting and waiting… and waiting for quite some time to just get back to our lives without a sense of threat on the horizon. We’re just getting over some of the biggest waves of this pandemic and now we’re hearing about a new variant. Although there’s not clear cut way to deal with such a difficult time, here are some things that I hope can help you manage through the uncertainty. 

  • Grounding: Many of us our experiencing trauma like symptoms from going through the pandemic. There have been many losses, many abrupt changes, and many crises that have been faced. Anytime those dilemmas happen, we can easily lose ourselves in space and time. Grounding to the present won’t eliminate those symptoms. But it can help you balance out the feelings of crisis with increased levels of calmness. I have made a minor guide on how to ground  if you would like to have a small guide to get you started. There isn’t just one way to do this, but the overall go is to get your mind and body back into the hear and now so it can identify safety. 
  • Be a mindful skeptic: The media is all over the place with how it has reported many elements of this pandemic. Headlines are often click bait with out-of-context fear-based statements. This doesn’t mean there is no truth in what is written. It doesn’t mean it’s true either. I push people to ask some critical questions. Here are some examples:
      • Is there extreme or all-or-nothing language in the article? 
        • For example, “the variant may evade immunity.” But does that mean it will for sure evade it? (No). Does that mean that if it does evade immunity, immunity is useless altogether (no). 
      • There has been a poor translation of science throughout this pandemic. 
        • Science helps us unpack, predict, identify and treat. However, there is no doubt that the communication and translation from science to the general public has been a problem. Science often uses theories to anticipate and treat. The media often takes these theories and the wording and just drops them as if they now have concrete meaning. Again, there is context here. Scientists are looking at stuff and it’s important that they look at possibilities while they’re still learning about this relatively new virus. The media has portrayed scientists as those who already know and takes those concerns as if they’re statements. This may be a little confusing, so let me summarize it. Great science is a series of identifications of trends followed by more questions. The media on the other hand tries to tell a story, but a story of just questions isn’t that compelling, so they’ll often take the questions (I don’t think this is always intentional) and make them sound more like statements. This can freak us all out! 
          • What I recommend you do is slow down assumptions and practice viewing scientific concerns as a resource rather than a threat. For example, it’s great that they’re identifying potential concerns about COVID. Then they can learn more about strategies that will work. That is different than every concern they have is a catastrophe in the making. Remember, not all scientific concerns happen in the way they are anticipated. 
          • This may be boring, but also keeping probability in mind. Scientists are often looking at the probability that certain outcomes will take place. For example, “is this virus more likely to spread faster?” There is always a range of outcomes that are probable. There are the worst case scenarios and there are the best case scenarios. The truth is that the vast majority of scenarios fall in the middle. The worst case scenarios can happen of course, but that isn’t just true of covid. Worse case scenarios can always potentially happen, but they rarely do. We’ll be obviously learning more about the omicron variant in weeks to come and we’ll see where we’re at, but there’s no reason to believe at this moment that we should assume the worst.
  • It’s possible to be scared and live your life. 
      • Obviously you want to be cautious and responsible. However, it’s also important to live your life in a way that is meaningful and important to you. What do you want to focus your time on day-by-day and week-by-week? 
  • Orienting to hope. 
      • What do you feel most hopeful about? For me, I know that in some way this is all going to settle. We’ll get more and more used to the virus and along with understanding it more and more. The virus is also very likely to get more and more used to us in a less threatening way over time. Of course I don’t know how that will look yet, but trust that it’ll make sense to me more and more as time passes. How about you? Where do you find hope right now? Is it in part of what has happened or happening? Is it with someone in your lives?

This is just a minor list of some ways to orient and ground in a very vulnerable time. It’s normal to be activated and scared about stuff. You don’t have to rid yourself of those feelings, but you can also balance with some of these strategies to possibly lower the intensity. 

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If you’re in Texas and looking for a therapist who can help with anxiety or trauma, please feel free to contact us. 

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