Omicron community outbreak in New Zealand

We are moving from a place of what people can call a place of relative safe certainty to, hopefully, a place of safe ‘uncertainty’ again. We know what we can do to remain safer & slow down & reduce the clinical burden on people, the health system & containing outbreaks

Understand that you have three systems that govern your reaction: your threat system, your calming system and your drive system.

To manage your sense of threat, understand and act upon what you can do to reduce your personal, family and community consequence of becoming infected – for example, getting vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible.

To get into more calm mental states, understand that you can feel tired getting into this red alert state under the traffic light system. Get rested, do things that make you feel calmer.

Do the things you need to do to make you feel safe – that can help too. It’s not a lockdown, but you need to familiarise yourself with what you can do, with who, where, and under what circumstances.

Your drive system is important too – and I note that there were some details released recently about setting expectations about what happens after the omicron wave peaks  – what happens next.

And though that’s too early to say, don’t underestimate how important this will be for helping ppl prepare for what comes next & perhaps moving to a more sustainable way of living in these times, or if the virus becomes a serious threat less than a pandemic, but still a genuine concern.

A word about dissonance

It takes work to decode messaging, to find the nuance – it’s a bit like the lead up to early 2020, when the original virus that saw wide transmission was spreading around the world, and we were preparing for it to hit our shores.

We are constantly being presented with arguments or scenarios that are closer to the poles of each position.

“It’s safe to travel in NZ, but don’t travel to where it’s not safe.”

“Prepare and stock up, but please don’t hoard and take everything – just take what you need. “

“It’s milder than Delta, but it’s still serious, so get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.”

At one end is that the primary health consequences are too much to bear for individuals and the health and welfare system.

The second is that the secondary consequences of safeguards are mounting up such that these themselves are too much to bear, and the solution is to take away all safeguards, because “it’s not that serious, anyway”.

The path through this, as always, somewhere in the middle ground. That this is a serious threat, and it threatens to overwhelm our resources to cope – that’s why we feel anxious …

It’s the assessment that what we are experiencing or about to experience may stretch us to the amount where we may not have the resources to cope as we would like to. This is appropriate and a spur to action.

Here’s a couple of things you can do:

Activate your calming system. Uncertainty is synonymous with the COVID pandemic and many other pressures of modern life. When your brain is countering as if you are in imminent danger, it’s difficult to do anything else.

Activities like deep breathing pushes the brake and allow us to access the more creative and strategic facets of our minds, to bring new solutions to bear rather than repeating the same action again and again. We want to move to a position of being safe under renewed uncertainty.

Identify unproductive worrying: Unproductive worries make us feel anxious and uncertain, and this can become a vicious cycle. Instead of letting the worries go round and round in your head, try keeping a worry journal.

Set aside a defined period, say 15 minutes, when you give yourself permission to worry. Write all your fears down in a notebook. The journal can act as a parking space, so your unproductive worries don’t keep circling around your mind looking for a space to park.

Take care out there, and, as always, stay considerate.

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