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  • COVID-19: Will it ever end? Tips for coping with new variants

    The Covid-19 pandemic has been one of those events that has changed the lives of everyone on the planet and has made its mark in history. Its impact has been so all-encompassing that we’ve found words and phrases entering our vocabularies that we would never previously have used. One word which has become common currency – particularly as the pandemic has gone on – is “variant”.

    It has often seemed as though we are returning to some measure of normality only for a new variant to land. There have been several variants, with Delta and Omicron the most notable. And for those of us who are just hoping and praying for an end to Covid, the arrival of a new variant has been bad news, because it feels like all of the uncertainty and confusion that came with the start of the pandemic comes rushing back.

    How we feel when a new variant hits

    The covid anxiety that affected us all in early 2020 was the result of, among other things, a sense of uncertainty. We didn’t know what to prepare for, so we didn’t know how to prepare. The reason that a new variant can create such a sense of hopelessness in us is that it renews that uncertainty. The things we did to avoid the original virus, or the Delta variant, may not be as effective against Omicron. And if – when – a new variant arrives, we’ll have that same uncertainty. Will it be as benign, symptomatically? Will it be more, or less, transmissible?

    Will it ever end?

    When the pandemic first hit, we did the right things. We locked down, we wore masks, we socially distanced, and we looked forward to a time when this would all be over. Two years in, it’s not uncommon to question whether “this” will ever be over. The truth is that Covid will at some stage go from being a pandemic to being endemic. The unfortunate flipside of that is that we don’t know when that will be – and it’s this uncertainty that can lead to depression and anxiety.

    So what do we do?

    There is a certain amount we can do to contribute to a quicker end to the pandemic: we can keep taking the precautions we’ve been taking, and encourage others to do likewise. Also, we can spread a bit of light in the world by keeping in contact with our loved ones, staying positive by indulging in relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation, and spending more time in nature – Covid spreads more easily both inside and in crowds, so getting into the open air is certainly a good idea.

    This is also a great time to explore safe hobbies that can be done at home. Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do, but have always encountered distractions. Picking up those guitar lessons, learning how to sew or knit, learning new board games, participating in virtual discussions, creating that podcasts, or picking up that book you’ve been neglecting. The key thing here is that you find a few positive outlets that truly bring you joy. It will be important to find something that you enjoy doing to keep those dopamine levels up, which will help you refrain from unhealthy habits such as substance abuse for pleasure.

    By far the most important thing we can do is to avoid being ground down by the way things are. This is temporary, and the most powerful tool we have against the darkness of Covid is our own consideration for loved ones and our fellow human beings. As long as we hold out hope and look after ourselves, we’ll be in a much better position to end the hold it has once and for all – and find joy in our lives once again.