Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: aka, guts!
During the C-19 coronavirus chaos, legitimate concerns are being raised that the social distancing, financial upheaval, quarantines and virus fears could lead to an upcoming mental health crisis.
While this is a potential reality, challenging times bring out both the best and the worst in people, and there is evidence that there could be a silver lining to this medical chaos, in the form of increased resiliency and intestinal fortitude (guts).
Rather than leading to an increase in feelings of loneliness, at least 1 study has found that the unique circumstances surrounding the pandemic, including stay-at-home orders, led to increased feelings of social support among survey respondents.
Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine researchers surveyed 2,230 people to assess the trajectory of loneliness in response to C-19. While it was expected that loneliness levels would increase, this was not what the study revealed.
Loneliness was assessed before the outbreak, in January and early February 2020, in late March when the US was just starting its “Slow the Spread” campaign, and again in late April, when most states had enacted stay-at-home orders.
“Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments,” the researchers wrote, and the study suggests people may be finding creative ways to stay connected, and perhaps are calling their friends and family more often than they would have otherwise, during the ‘pandemic‘.
Rather than finding survey respondents to be increasingly lonely as the ‘pandemic‘ wore on, they reported a perception of increased support from others. There were some differences by age, with older adults reporting less loneliness overall, but an increase in loneliness during the outbreak’s acute phase.
This leveled off after stay-at-home-orders were issued. Other potentially vulnerable populations, including those living alone or with at least 1 comorbidity , did have higher levels of loneliness at the start of the study, but the levels did not increase along with social distancing measures.
“Despite some detrimental impact on vulnerable individuals, in the present sample, there was no large increase in loneliness but remarkable resilience in response to COVID-19,” the researchers explained.
“There has been a lot of worry that loneliness would increase dramatically because of the social distancing guidelines and restrictions,” lead study author Martina Luchetti, an assistant professor at the College of Medicine, said in a news release.
“Contrary to this fear, we found that overall loneliness did not increase. Instead, people felt more supported by others than before the pandemic. Even while physically isolated, the feeling of increased social support and of being in this together may help limit increases in loneliness.”
While it seems counterintuitive that the virus chaos may have led to increases in perceived social support, it is possible that the global experience has been unifying.
“Just knowing that you are not alone and that everyone is going through the same restrictions and difficulties may be enough in the short term to keep feelings of loneliness down,” Angelina Sutin, FSU associate professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine and senior author of the featured study, said in the news release.
Research has found that resilient people, those people who handle life’s challenges especially well and who quickly bounce back from setbacks do not somehow avoid negative states, delusionally thinking everything is fine.
Rather, even while feeling stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression, the resilient among us also feel love, gratitude, joy and hope.
The research has also shown that resilience is not a fixed trait. It can be cultivated. Like an upward spiral, resilience increases as people experience more frequent positive emotional states.
The Keys to staying Resilient: Positive emotions are associated with self-care, such as engaging in a hobby or relaxing, exercising or engaging in spiritual activities, such as prayer, meditation and helping others.
Have a healthy day, Keep the Faith!