Mental Health: Living with uncertainty

How to protect your mental health in the face of uncertainty and another COVID variant.

Reports about the latest COVID variant of concern, Omicron, have exploded all over the news. No sooner had we learned its name, when it had arrived in Namibia.

Waves of familiar dread washed ashore for many, just when there was fresh hope we would soon put all this behind us. Would there be lockdowns again? Do we need booster shots? What about border closures?

Many were worried about getting refunds for their Christmas holiday trips. Many others grappled with a sense of d j  vu and hopelessness – wondering how they would get their life and mental health back on track, again.

Reports indicate that Namibia has suffered more mental distress over the past two years than ever seen before in our independent history. COVID has compounded emotional, social and financial pressure for vulnerable groups, including children and young people, and many others.

As we continue to live in uncertain times, there are things we can do to boost our mental immune system to help us stay as resilient as we can, for whatever 2022 may bring.

Focus on nutritious brain food
Pay attention to what information your brain has consumed today – has it been fed a diet of “doom-scrolling” and bad news about things largely outside our control?

Uncertainty makes us feel anxious and fearful, which leads us to pay more attention to negative information in our environment, interpret ambiguous situations as threatening, and worry about how things could go wrong.

Our mood shapes what comes to mind, and what comes to mind also influences how we feel. So when we feel bad, negative things come to mind easily, which makes us feel bad – forming a negative loop.

On top of this, if our brains are flooded with negative pictures and information from news and social media, then when we think of our future, our minds will easily be

Our mood shapes what comes to mind, and what comes to mind also influences how we feel

filled with compelling yet distorted negative images and thoughts. This can fuel a negative cycle of anxiety and despair, making us feel hopeless and helpless.

Connecting with and helping others, helps us
Humans are social animals who need to feel connected to others. Helping others greatly benefits our own mental and physical well-being and builds a buffer against negative stress. We can help others or give them the gift of helping us because it’ll likely make them feel better too.

Hang in there
Living through a pandemic is testing our resilience and challenging our coping abilities in ways they’ve never been challenged before. But new tools, expert advice and support are available.

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