For many of us, the surge of the omicron variant has ruined our hopes for a return to normalcy this holiday season.
Some are choosing to upend their holiday plans, dialing back family gatherings and canceling trips.
That pandemic whiplash can have a negative effect on your mental health.
Local mental health experts spoke with our newsroom's public affairs show AirTalk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, about how to cope. Here are some takeaways:
Keep Realistic Expectations
Be realistic with your expectations, said Dr. Erlanger Turner, assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University.
“Life is uncertain, a lot of things don’t go the way we plan or expect them, and so how do we navigate when our expectations are set a certain way, but they’re not met?” he said.
Turner also stressed the importance of gratitude at a time like this, when everything can feel like it’s going wrong. Expressing gratitude to yourself and others can help you cope, even in a world in which the pandemic has taken so much, he said.
Kids Look To Adults
It’s important to set a good mental health example for younger ones, Turner said.
“How we are coping sometimes influences how they cope as well,” he said, underscoring the reality that kids are battling their own pandemic stressors, like losing touch with friends.
“If they seem to be more reserved when they used to be more active, if they are isolating themselves, you do want to check in with them to really understand what they may be experiencing,” Turner said, adding that it may be necessary to seek professional help.
Making Space To Grieve
With more than 27,000 COVID-19 deaths reported so far in L.A. County, the grim fact is that a lot of us are grieving the loss of a loved one.
It's important to make a space in our lives to remember people we’ve lost, said Dr. Curly Bonds, chief medical officer for the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.
“I think it’s important to make new traditions but also not to forget some of the sadness,” he said.
Steinberg Institute website, links to mental health resources and care throughout California
- Institute on Aging's 24/7 Friendship Line (especially for people who have disabilities or are over 60), 1-800-971-0016 or call 415-750-4138 to volunteer.
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, 24/7 Access Line 1-800-854-7771, links to COVID-19 information.
The Crisis Text Line, Text "HOME" (741-741) to reach a trained crisis counselor.
California Psychological Association Find a Psychologist Locator
Psychology Today guide to therapist
If You Need Immediate Help
For more help:
Find 5 Action Steps for helping someone who may be suicidal, from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Six questions to ask to help assess the severity of someone's suicide risk, from the Columbia Lighthouse Project.
To prevent a future crisis, here's how to help someone make a safety plan.
This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2021 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.