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Mental health experts speak on coping strategies following omicron variant news ahead of holidays

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 23:12:12-05

TAMPA, Fla. — In a pandemic full of highs and lows, the omicron variant comes at a time when many were hoping for a little joy.

"People are really struggling and they're moving to this place of despair because they're tired of being pulled back from this hope and positivity," said Dr. Alise Bartley, the Director of FGCU's Community Counseling Center

Dr. Bartley says feeling hopeless because of the latest variant isn't unusual. She says the first step to getting to the other side of those feelings is to sit with them.

"I think the most important thing we need to do is acknowledge our feelings. 'How am I really feeling?' 'Is this about the new variant or is it about the anxiety I am feeling about the holidays?'" she said.

After that, Assistant Professor of Mental Health and Policy at USF Dr. Kristin Kosyluk says you should work to pinpoint and use some of the healthy coping tactics you've used in the past.

"We may not be in the best mental shape of our lives but, right? It's normal to be struggling right now but we've done something that's worked to get us to this point," she said.

And Dr. Bartley says ideally, some of those activities will safely include other people, to avoid self-isolation.

"But let's go ahead and do those activities. Maybe it's about Christmas caroling six feet apart. You're only limited by your imagination," said Dr. Bartley.

Lastly, Dr. Bartley says you should stay informed, but you should also avoid doom-scrolling every bit of news about the variant.

"Focus on your trusted media sources and only listen to those sources. If you listen to a bunch of sources you're going to have an increase in anxiety," she said.

And if you're still struggling, they both say you shouldn't hesitate to reach out to a licensed mental health expert for help.

"Unfortunately due to, largely the stigma surrounding mental illnesses we tend to avoid professional resources when there are times when those are really, really important to avail," said Dr. Kosyluk

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