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Mental health issues intensify as omicron takes over the holiday season

With omicron causing new infections and flights canceled, this holiday season is turning out differently than expected for many.

AUSTIN, Texas — It's been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic made it to the U.S.

Many thought things would get better. With vaccines rolling out and cases going down, we thought this would be the Christmas that would feel somewhat normal.

Then came the omicron variant. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases means holiday plans changed for many.

"Well, we know that a lot of people are really experiencing, you know, another grief process with this, you know, the grief of having to acknowledge that things aren't going to look like they want to this holiday season," said Alison Mohr Boleware, with the National Association of Social Workers Texas. "We know that for people, it's a shock. So, for people to have to change plans suddenly or to have to acknowledge that they won't get to see as many people this year as they were hoping to."

Psychologist Vanessa Rodriguez said that on top of these changes, many are also quarantined.

"We've been going through a pandemic where people have been feeling isolated," said Rodriguez. "People have been feeling overwhelmed and stressed."

Now, the question is, what can we do to help with this added stress and anxiety?

"Getting enough rest, eating regularly and eating healthy foods, making sure that you're getting alone time and getting some time outside, moving your body in a way that feels good for you, saying 'No' to things that you truly don't have time for so that you can focus on what really is important to you."

These are things you've probably heard before, and you might not think they make much of a difference, but they do.

"Think about mental health as a holistic part of health," said Mohr Boleware. "You know, it is part of physical health care. Don't treat it as anything different."

Mohr Boleware said it's good to accept the feelings of sadness and stress. Once you do, it'll be easier to address them.

So, stay safe this holiday, and try to enjoy the time you have with those around you.

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