Are we more resilient than we think?
Back in the spring of 2020, experts warned to prepare for an inevitable mental health crisis that was coming as a result of the pandemic. No age group was immune to the psychological risks that were at hand, as many articles pointed out the different disruptions to daily life that would impact everyone from school aged children to adulthood. Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic (no clear end date, financial instability, etc.) was a recipe for anxiety.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of grief and pain, with millions losing their lives to the virus. However, over a year after the very first shutdown in March of 2020, the data is not supporting what many experts and researchers in the field predicted and were afraid of.
Why might this be? If all the pieces of the pandemic were suggesting a mass mental health crisis, what prevented so many from developing psychological symptoms? One possibility is that it is too early to see the impact this has had on our mental health, however researchers are not convinced.
Anxiety, depression, even rates of suicide began to fall below average numbers by summer of 2020, and the mental health crisis that was being warned about seemed to be nonexistent. It is possible that as a society, we are more resilient than we think. What makes someone resilient, and how were we able to protect ourselves from negative psychological side effects from COVID-19?
From what we know about resilience, and because of how new this information is, we can only speculate on what it was that made the majority of people so resilient. However, there are several aspects of resilience that remain consistent in most of the literature.
- Social relationships
- While the pandemic caused disruptions in our social lives unlike we have ever experienced before, people all over the world gained a deeper appreciation for their loved ones. In light of not being able to physically see each other, we became more grateful to have special relationships in our life, and found new ways to connect with each other.
- Having social connections is one of the most important aspects of resiliency. When we have someone to count on when we are going through stressful times, we are less likely to experience negative psychological side effects in the long-term. It is possible that even while we were socially distant, we still leaned on each other for support to get through the pandemic.
- Many individuals were forced to slow down and reflect on their life. Stepping away from the fast paced life that so many of us were used to living forced us to look around and what we had. Many saw that they in fact had a great life, with family and friends that loved them. We were forced to step away and slow down, and take a look at what we had right in front of us. Usual luxuries such as traveling stopped and even shopping slowed down.
Written by Jaclyn Gordon