Tips to handle holiday stress amid omicron surge

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Monday, December 20, 2021
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Darla Miles speaks with experts on how to handle the stress of of the holiday season and the omicron variant.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The stress of the holiday season is amplified this year by the omicron variant spreading fast and throwing a wrench in so many plans.

Eyewitness News spoke with the experts who have some tips on how to handle it all.

"They feel like it's groundhog day, we're back to square one, we're back to where we were in early 2020 when we were all figuring out what do and getting all stressed out," said clinical psychologist Dr. Vijayeta Sinh.

But with the long lines at COVID testing sites, closures and cancellations, for some, it sure feels like 2020.

"Two years into this and we see we do not have logistics to have PCR testing," Queens resident Mirela Jaganjac said.

A recent poll called Stress in America conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association found that 63% of those surveyed are stressed out by the uncertainty the pandemic brings - and 49% say it makes it impossible to plan.

WATCH | Dr. Narasimhan answers your questions on COVID, vaccines:

The findings indicate a high level of stress and anxiety which are now intensified with the onset of the omicron variant.

"We've been through this before, we know what this is like," Sinh said. "As hard and has difficult as the last time may have been for some of us, that we have the mechanisms that we need."

Some of those mechanisms, according to Dr. Sinh, are any type of movement or exercise, deep breathing and practicing mindfulness.

"Mindfulness can really help us build what we really need for long term endurance of this which is the emotional awareness space, really learning to identify our emotions, sit with our emotions," Sinh said. "Not feel the need to constantly run away from what's happening to us."

"The importance of focusing on where you can put your control, that's where we should invest our energy," said Dr. Shannon O'Neill with Mount Sinai Health System.

O'Neill, an expert in current events impacting health, suggests this can be as easy as getting groceries delivered to limit exposure or going outside and getting some sun.

"Making sure that we're doing all the things that we can do while trying to cope and accept the rest, that is out of our control," O'Neill said.

ALSO READ | NYC omicron surge to last 'a matter of weeks,' mayor says

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