Psychiatrist shares tips on how to deal with stress as Omicron variant threatens community before holidays

Some people are feeling exhaustion over pandemic

Another holiday. Another time to gather. And another warning not to spread COVID.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t been stressed by the pandemic yet?

Dr. Biren Patel, Psychiatrist with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, said major depression has been high during the pandemic.

One study from Brown University said rates of depression have tripled and symptoms have intensified as the pandemic continues.

Now, with the uncertainty of Omicron, mixed with holiday stress and expectations, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself.

“Touching base with spirituality or a mentor that has a faith-based background, also exercise, meditation and yoga can help,” he said.

Dr. Patel said to consider these tips throughout the holiday season:

1. Travel

When it comes to traveling, try to be flexible since changes may be out of your control.

2. Be flexible

Understand plans may change. Celebrate, no matter what, to make the day feel special, even if it’s with a small group.

4. Keep the peace

Be ready to change the topic if there’s tension or disagreements.

“Try a gentle redirect. Redirect is just trying to change the topic to maybe things y’all can agree on such as the meal, culture, music, travel plans or even hobbies. Trying to redirect the conversation to something that’s more neutral and more common ground,” Dr. Patel said.

5. Grief

For those missing a loved one around the holidays, he said to focus on their legacy.

“When that person was alive, what did they stand for? What were they passionate about? Sometimes doing those activities and keeping their routine going can also help with that sense of loss,” Dr. Patel suggested.

6. Caregivers

Dr. Patel said caregivers who often feel too busy taking care of others to focus on self-care need to remember to “put the oxygen mask on yourself first.”

Meaning, don’t skip doctor visits, try meditating, exercising end enjoying time with pets for your own wellbeing or you won’t be able to help others.