10 Things Mentally Strong People Do During a Pandemic

10 Things Mentally Strong People Do During a Pandemic

via Psychology Today by Tracy S Hutchinson

The COVID-19 global pandemic and the systemic ramifications are not only unprecedented but harrowing. We are all adjusting to new realities and grieving the loss of old ones. All of us are simply trying to manage our daily lives taking care of our children or parents, dealing with financial stresses, and adjusting to a new way to live.article continues after advertisement

All stressors related to COVID-19 may likely result in a myriad of negative feelings such as depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This collective trauma that we are experiencing may feel bleak, but this isn’t the first crisis in our history. For example, research investigations in crises such as the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Ebola, and SARS reveal how individuals respond to pandemics/crises in both adaptive and maladaptive ways.

Researchers have studied how the mentally strong may behave through adverse experiences. This information may help you reduce the likelihood of mental health issues resulting from the COVID-19. Further, the mentally strong and resilient may eventually display post-traumatic growth versus post-traumatic stress symptoms. Post-traumatic growth is understood as positive psychological changes that result from traumatic and highly stressful experiences. Although we are in the middle of this crisis, individuals can rise to a higher level of functioning when the pandemic ends.  

Most of us know the basics: it is vital to create daily habits, to exercise, and to connect with our social supports using virtual meetings and social media. However, here are some suggestions based on evidence of how mentally strong people respond to crises. They may help you not only manage the pandemic but decrease the likelihood of long term mental health issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. article continues after advertisement

1. They limit news and media exposure.

Research suggests that there are two main predictors to how well a person will respond in a crisis (like a pandemic). The first is how vulnerable they were in their own lives before the crisis. The second is how much news they consumed during the crisis. Chronic news exposure may create vicarious trauma and PTSD.

Media exposure and the 24/7 news cycle can activate “fight or flight” responses, which can lead to traumatic stress. For example, in a study conducted after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, several hours of media exposure after 9-11 were associated with PTSD and new physical health issues 2-3 years later in participants. In another study conducted during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, daily media exposure was associated with increased distress and poorer functioning over the long term compared to those who limited their news and media intake. Mentally strong people limit their news exposure, choose reliable and responsible print/media, and limit exposure to distressful images shown on the news.

2. They accept their feelings as normal.

Mentally strong individuals accept their feelings as normal because this is a time for both personal trauma and collective trauma. A resilient individual understands that feelings such as fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, and sadness are normal because the information is too overwhelming to process at once. The American Psychological Association also accepts this from a diagnostic perspective.article continues after advertisement

Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (APA-2013), the diagnosis of “Adjustment Disorder with Anxious or Depressed Mood” is applied to any person who is experiencing symptoms and has had a major life event occur in the last 90 days. Naturally, this applies to all of us because we are amid a pandemic that has changed our lives: whether the loss of a job, homeschooling children, the inability to attend a funeral or see a loved one in a nursing home or otherwise, these reactions are within normal limits.

3. They carefully choose the leaders they follow.

Mentally strong people follow those who display healthy leadership skills and mental health. Garfin et al. (2020) suggested that providers promote calm and rational action and limit watching media and individuals who undermine public health efforts to combat COVID-19. It is both confusing and psychologically harmful to watch leaders who publicly argue and misstate the facts and the research. As a native New Yorker, I find it useful to watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he states the facts in a cogent, calm, and thorough manner.

Further, Garfin and colleagues (2020) suggested choosing one or two trusted sources (e.g. Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization) to stay informed of critical updates. Researchers also assert that since there are no drastic changes from hour to hour during a pandemic, choosing a reliable print media source one time per day is suggested. (Baruch Fischoff, Ph.D.)

… keep reading the full and original article HERE

#happiness #positivepsychology #resilience #positivity