COVID 3rd Wave: FOMO or FOGO, How Do You Deal With Your Anxiety
“Is the third wave about to come? How bad will the third wave be? Surely, not as bad as the second?”
These are the questions that Rati Makkar, a resident of Delhi, finds herself ruminating over these days.
The most prominent feature of the widely touted third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic lies in its inevitability – in that we know that it will come, sooner or later.
Amid varying speculations, the looming uncertainty over the nearing third wave of the pandemic has led to a sense of anxiety among many.
“A lot of the anxiety is about having to live in a constant state of adaptation. When cases rise and lockdowns are imposed, personal relationships, future plans, finances, health – all take a toll. In addition to the fear of the virus, the apprehension about needing to re-orient oneself whenever the third wave comes is a major factor that contributes to the worry.”Dr Kamna Chhibber, Clinical Psychologist at Fortis Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences.
While some, like Makkar, find it hard to deal with the unpredictability of it all, others fret if they’ll be forearmed before the third wave comes.
News, Conjecture, Speculation
Concerned about her daughter’s health, Manisha (name changed), a corporate executive, shares her confusion: “While there was some conjecture in the news that the next outbreak will affect children more, there were also many reports refuting this.”
“There is so much news about the third wave these days. I try to stay updated with all the developments, but I think it is taking a toll on my mental health,” says Manisha.
'Scrambling for Beds, Gasping for Air'
While some are coping with the foreboding of what’s to come, some others are still reeling from the trauma of the past.
Anmol Gupta, 22, lost his grandparents to the second, devastating wave of coronavirus. “I’m scared if the situation will be like that again – people dying, scrambling for beds, gasping for air,” he says.
Gupta, who had himself been diagnosed with COVID in May, has just completed his government-recommended 3 month period of wait before the vaccination. “I’m now worried if I’ll be able to get both my shots before the next wave comes,” he shares.
To Go Out or Not to Go Out
If Shakespeare’s Hamlet lived in Covid-ian times, we know what his dilemma would be.
In the uncertain period between the second wave and the third, one wonders if this is the fleeting window where a home-wearied one can finally step out and ease their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out, but we’re sure you already knew that), or whether going out now can only hasten the onslaught of the next wave – the sense of FOGO (Fear of Going Out) that COVID has brought with it.
“It has been more than a year since we’ve been cooped up at home. The cases are at an all-time low… If we can’t even go out now, when will we get our chance?” Ayan Bindra, a student, opines, supporting the FOMO club.
Some others, however, are more apprehensive. “Look at the pictures of the tourists crowding at the hills. Who knows where one will catch the infection if one goes out?” says Manisha, who has seen her fair share of noses poking out of masks.
How Do We Deal With This Anxiety?
If you’re also troubled by spiralling thoughts or much too frequent brooding over the third wave, here’s some advice that can be useful.
“In order to cope with the uncertainty of the third wave, focus on the things that are under your control. Shift your attention to the present – the here and the now. Take care of your health. Arm yourself with credible information,” Dr Chhibber says, speaking to FIT.
“Making conscious, informed choices is very important at this time, and can help you feel more in control,” she adds.
While some find it hard to cope with the unknowability of when the next outbreak will occur or how bad it will be, the barrage of third wave-related news has also fuelled anxiety for some others. “Don’t view triggering visuals or dramatically-conveyed news,” Dr Seema Hingoranny, a Mumbai-based clinical psychologist and trauma expert suggests. “Instead, consume reliable information through other means, such as reading. Turn down your news consumption if it aggravates your anxiety,” she adds.
Dr Hingoranny also offers advice to cope with the continuing trauma of second wave. “Many people have still not processed the pain and the grief of the losses of the second wave. Seek professional help if such problems persist. Question your irrational fears. Confide in your loved ones; be expressive of your feelings. Don’t sit on it,” she says.
Building an awareness of your emotions, meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, regular physical activity, and communicating with your friends and family can also go a long way in alleviating your anxiety.
And while the jury is still out on whether it’s okay to plan outings or participate in social gatherings in this interlude with low caseload, meeting with your family and friends in small groups while practising necessary caution is also a good way to relieve your anxiety.
“If you choose to go out, don’t be reckless. Follow the COVID-19 protocol recommended by the government. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and take all the necessary precautions. Taking individual responsibility for collective well-being is important at a time like this,” reminds Dr Chhibber.
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