For two years, the novel coronavirus has presented a public health threat the likes of which many of us have never experienced. Given the various alterations to daily life COVID-19 has facilitated, it’s easy to see why so many of us have dealt with elevated stress levels throughout the course of this dark period. While the pandemic entering its third year is hardly ideal, there are a number of easy ways you can prevent yourself from being overtaken by stress in the new year.

Take Measures to Limit Virus Exposure

Given the highly infectious nature of the novel coronavirus, all of us would do well to limit potential virus exposure. While this may entail altering the way you go about certain daily activities, any minor inconveniences you endure can provide you with tremendous peace of mind. For starters, if your workplace is awash with unvaccinated and/or uncareful coworkers, you have every right to request that you be allowed to work from home. Just because your employer refuses to require employees to get vaccinated doesn’t mean you should be placed in harm’s way.

Continuing to mask up in public is another effective way to limit exposure. Even if the businesses you frequent have rescinded their mandatory masking rules, it’s in your best interest to continue wearing a mask when you’re out and about. With Omicron, Delta and other variants on the rise, masking up in public is the least any of us can do for ourselves, our loved ones and public health as a whole. You should also avoid large gatherings, particularly those attended by unvaccinated individuals.

Refusing to congregate with unvaccinated friends and family members can also help limit potential COVID-19 exposure. You may catch flack from these individuals or be accused of “being consumed by fear,” but at the end of the day, your safety is what’s important, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to put your health at risk because of someone else’s selfish behavior. 

Stay Current with COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

Unless you have a medical condition that makes vaccination ill-advised, you should have received your initial COVID-19 vaccine shots by this point. However, since the novel coronavirus has remained a persistent threat, you’ll also need to stay current with COVID-19 boosters in order to provide yourself with maximum protection.

At present, adults who received the Moderna vaccine are eligible to receive a booster shot at least six months after their initial vaccine series, Pfizer-BioNTech recipients are eligible for a booster at least five months after their initial series, and adults who received the Johnson & Johnson’s Jansen vaccine are eligible at least two months after their initial shot. Furthermore, the CDC recently updated its vaccine recommendations to emphasize a preference for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – i.e., the mRNA vaccines. Parents should also take note of the fact that children aged five and up are now eligible to be vaccinated.

At the current time, the Pfizer-BioNTech vax is the only one authorized for use on children between the ages of five and eleven. Furthermore, 5-to-11-year-olds who are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised can receive an additional primary dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after their second shot. In addition, the CDC now recommends Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for 12-to-17-year-olds five months after their initial vaccination series. 

Take Up Relaxing Hobbies

Indulging in your favorite hobbies can be a great way to alleviate pandemic stress. Needless to say, it helps if these hobbies have a strong relaxation component. For example, meditation, deep breathing exercises, reading and various creative outlets can help you achieve a relaxed mindset and dispel stress. Committing to a fitness routine can also prove conducive to stress relief – in addition to helping you build stamina and maintain a positive outlet.

Additionally, if you live in a state with legalized recreational marijuana use, you may want to think about experimenting with relaxation-inducing cannabis strains and/or CBD products. For instance, if you’re currently in the market for a calming CBD oil, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert at your local dispensary for recommendations.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had a tough time over the last couple years. In light of the continued impact the pandemic has had on our daily lives, even perpetual optimists can’t help but feel twinges of fatigue. In short, there’s no denying that this has been a stressful period for all of us. However, the way we react to that stress can have a significant impact on our general outlook and mindset. Anyone looking for effective ways to keep pandemic stress in check as COVID-19 enters its third year will be well-served by the tips discussed above.