Ricky Batten

How to ease anxiety over the 'Omicron wave' in Thailand

Even though a lot of us have been doubly jabbed against COVID-19, I find that anxiety over the new ‘Omicron’ wave is all too common.

Even though a lot of us have been doubly jabbed against COVID-19, I find that anxiety over the new ‘Omicron’ wave is all too common. 

After all, we’ve spent the last two years in an endless cycle of outbreak and lockdowns, watching the grim statistics of daily cases and deaths, and sanitizing our hands (amongst other pandemic-related practices like mask-wearing and social distancing) like never before. 

Now, I’m not saying that we should abandon our hygiene practices altogether, pretend the pandemic never existed, and go back to life as usual. All I’m saying is that we need to find coping mechanisms to keep us and our communities both physically safe and mentally well. 

So in today’s blog, I’ll get you up to speed with the COVID-19 situation in Thailand, and explore 6 ways to ease anxiety over the Omicron wave. 

COVID-19 situation in Thailand

While there doesn’t seem to be many pandemic-related restrictions in Thailand and the country is eager to open up to foreign tourists*, it would be a mistake to think that COVID-19 is no longer around. On the contrary, the facts point to a completely different story. Currently, the Omicron variant is the dominant variant in Thailand and experts predict that the daily number of new COVID-19 infections will remain high for at least 2-6 weeks, and may hit 100,000 cases by Songkran

*Foreign arrivals can now enter Thailand via the Test & Go quarantine-free scheme, which has been simplified recently to boost tourism numbers. Starting March 1st, foreign arrivals no longer need a Day 5 PCR test and can opt for an Antiitgen Test Kit (ATK) test instead. What’s more, the minimum insurance coverage has been reduced from USD $50,000 to USD $20,000. Find out more about the new Test & Go quarantine-free scheme and how to secure the required insurance here

Like many of its global counterparts, Thailand is also hoping to declare the pandemic as ‘endemic’ by the end of this year using its own criteria with or without confirmation from the World Health Organization. 

While many people may experience mild symptoms and recover at home, it doesn’t change the fact that the virus can be deadly for some and cause anxiety in the rest of us as a result. As alluded to previously, switching mindsets after two long years of COVID-19 is obviously easier said than done. 

4 tips to ease anxiety over the ‘Omicron wave’

Medical experts may offer reassuring words about how deadly Omicron is, but that doesn’t mean we can stop feeling anxious and afraid. That being said, there are coping mechanisms we can adopt in order to ease anxiety and fear over it. Don’t worry if you’re not able to follow them to a tee. (In fact, I have yet to master them so this serves as a helpful reminder for me.) Just keep at it and you’ll get there over time. 

1. Break the cycle with relaxation techniques

When you feel anxious, chances are you’ll have physical symptoms like knots in your stomach or a headache that don’t respond to conventional solutions. To solve the issue at its core, quickly implement relaxation techniques. Some of the most popular relaxation techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and visualization. 

Watch out for things that can trigger anxiety

They say that prevention is better than cure. Notice whether there are certain things or behaviors that are making you feel anxious. Is it endlessly scrolling your social media feed? Or unhealthy habits like heavy drinking, procrastinating, and excessively seeking reassurance, as well as lack of exercise or sleep? Once you’ve identified your triggers, try to cut down on them.

2. Do your best to avoid catastrophic thinking and focus on what you can control

Catastrophic thinking is when you fixate on the worst possible outcomes, and can be countered by thinking of optimal and most likely outcomes. You can also strategize how you’d prepare for those. What’s more, it helps to think about how your current concerns may seem in a week's or year’s time. Grounding techniques can be used to quiet your mind and return to the present.

Focusing on the things you can control is also another way to stop worrying about uncertain and unwanted future outcomes. The reality is that we will never know how things play out so it’s best to focus on the things we can do today. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be to get vaccinated, wear a mask, prioritize our health, etc. 

3. Be compassionate towards yourself

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should avoid feelings of anxiety to begin with. This is “toxic positivity” and involves responding to negative emotions with false positivity instead of empathy. However, faking positivity to avoid or suppress anxiety not only doesn’t work but can even make things worse down the line. 

Try being compassionate to yourself instead. You can write yourself a loving letter that you can read whenever you need reassurance, picture yourself talking to a loved one in the same situation and talk to yourself the same way, or simply put one hand over your heart and one hand over your stomach. 

4. Form healthy habits

The mind-body connection is incredibly strong so forming healthy habits like eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, sleeping adequately, and prioritizing self-care can go a long way in helping with anxiety. Rather than commit to everything at once and fail to keep up, it’s better to start with achievable goals, and see where it leads you. 

If you’d like to talk more about owning your health and healthcare matters in Thailand or about securing health insurance, you’re more than welcome to email me at ajarn@pacificprime.co.th or contact my team at Pacific Prime Thailand - a leading health insurance brokerage catering to expats and foreigners in the country. 


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