How To Deal With Mounting Anxiety Over COVID-19 Getting Bad Again

Remind yourself that most breakthrough cases are evidence the vaccines are working.

Yes, some young, relatively healthy vaccinated people are getting mild COVID-19 cases, but don’t forget: The vaccine was never going to prevent people from getting sick entirely.

As infectious diseases specialist Monica Gandhi told HuffPost earlier this week, when the mad dash to develop a COVID-19 vaccine began last year, health officials hoped to create one with just a 50% efficacy rate against severe disease and death.

“Even a not-so-great vaccine would make a huge dent in the pandemic,” Gandhi said, stressing that all three vaccines available have performed much better than that.

So when fully vaccinated people come down with cases of the coronavirus that are mild and don’t result in death or hospitalization, that’s proof positive that the vaccination is doing its job. Prior to the shot’s development, the likelihood of more serious symptoms or even death was much higher.

Don’t put your life on pause.

If you’re experiencing anxiety despite being fully vaccinated, start with small steps toward reentry (if you haven’t already). Grab dinner with friends you haven’t seen in forever or spend some time at your physical office if your company has adopted a hybrid workplace. Get back on dating apps if you’ve been thinking about it, or start looking for that new job if you put your search on the backburner the last year.

“Although doing these things might feel anxiety-provoking at first, these feelings should fade and people will begin to feel more comfortable over time,” said Marney White, a psychologist and professor at Yale School of Public Health.

Focus on what you can do to stay safe.

As Boateng said, “fear often compels us to focus on uncertainty.”

But you don’t need to be too fearful at this moment because you already know what you can do to stay safe: chiefly, getting vaccinated, while also hand-washing, wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds if you feel it’s necessary and sharing your reentry boundaries with friends and family.

You have agency here, Boateng stressed. Not to mention a hard-won education on how to deal with COVID-19 threats, lockdowns and all the requisite safety precautions.

Whatever you do, don’t start doomscrolling again.

Access to news 24 hours a day is a curse and a blessing. If constant headlines about the delta variant are freaking you out, step away from that cable news channel or your phone if you’re back to your old doomscrolling ways.

“Over-consumption of the news can paralyze you with fear,” Boateng said. “Limit your intake to one check-in a day or every other day. It can support anxiety reduction.”

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