Early in the pandemic, anxiety and depression levels were pretty normal. Through the early spring of 2020 things changed– some reports showed anxiety and depression 2-3x higher than normal. Then, in July and August the levels dropped again — in some global areas quite significantly.
Was it because we could go outside more? Maybe it was the sunshine and warm weather. Less restrictions? Yes, to probably all of those.
But, the researchers found another reason as well.
RESILIENCY IS ALIVE AND WELL
People became creative in their ways of bouncing back.
That global psychological immune system that I mentioned at the beginning of this post was being tested. And, when the familiar sources of our enjoyment evaporated in the spring of 2020, people became creative. They participated in drive-by birthday parties and graduations, virtual evening gatherings, nightly cheering for health-care workers, and many it appears returned to forgotten personal activities like baking or playing the guitar.
People found a way to socialize and be part of something larger than them. They took charge of their own wellness.
This does not diminish the intensity or negative effects from the pandemic. This has been a very difficult time. There have been real struggles with pain, personal loss and financial hardship — and it has not been spread out evenly in our community. Mental health concerns have disproportionately affected those who have financial challenges, people who became ill with COVID-19, and certainly those who already were dealing with physical or psychological distress. The pandemic is real and it has been a significant negative influence in people’s lives.
And it also doesn’t negate our moral obligation to take care of those who are struggling — those who have been hit hard by the pandemic. This is part of the responsibility of being part of a collective social fabric.
But, we have seen resilience. And it is real!
Resilience can lift many people into a better place. Numerous research results are showing that people can handle temporary changes and challenges — that they can find creative solutions to what appear to be monumental mountains — that they can rebound.
Research has shown that most people exposed to tragic events — things like personal loss or traumatic life events, continue to have positive emotional experiences. Negative effects are often only minor and do not significantly disrupt their ability to function. The research on resilience also points out that most studies on trauma focus on those persons who have sought treatment or exhibited significant mental health distress. New evidence shows that resilience, in the face of loss or potential trauma, is more common than is often believed.
So what are the take aways for me …
- Trauma is indeed real and it can have a significant effect on people.
- Supporting those who need it is important and necessary.
- Humans are not passive recipients of change, but are active participants in their own well-being.
- We are stronger than we may give ourselves credit for in overcoming challenges.
So, while the pandemic has been difficult in many ways, let’s also recognize the power of the human mind to overcome substantial difficulty. There will be scars left over when the pandemic eventually fades into the rearview mirror, but there will also be many stories of triumph and success. We need to see both.