How best to live during the containment and pandemic of COVID-19?
Text updated on 2020-05-20
Psychological strategies can be put in place to deal with the stress and negative emotions associated with the pandemic and, thus, better cope with the events that are taking place.
Faced with boredom, bad moods, monotony, separation from friends or family, here are some examples of coping strategies:
- Reinterpreting events for positive effects
- Thinking about the present rather than the future: the future is uncertain and can be anxiety-provoking, it is more appropriate to think about what is currently important and attainable.
- Developing an artistic or creative activity
- Develop even moderate physical activity
- Keeping a diary of small successes and the positive aspects of the day to capitalize on positive emotions.
- The stress generated by the situation is not necessarily totally negative. It is possible to optimize it, i.e., to give it positive aspects so that it has virtuous effects: less stress means less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information. In turn, this increases the amount of positive emotions and decreases psychological distress and the perception of physical symptoms.
How do you do it?
- Looking for challenges: challenges generate low levels of stress that can be controlled, it is a good way to become aware that we are capable of controlling stress (for example: starting a new intellectual or sporting activity, learning to draw, starting to read War and Peace again when we had never finished it... While remaining realistic about the objectives!)
- Reorienting attention: looking for the positive in negative situations. Confinement can be an opportunity to change one's lifestyle, one's way of seeing priorities, or to redefine one's values.
- Develop and strengthen one's "sense of self-efficacy", i.e., the belief that one has what it takes to cope. By convincing oneself that they have the resources to cope, each individual is led to mobilize them and, thus, control the overall stress of the situation.
These approaches help to build "post-traumatic development" in order to emerge stronger from a traumatic or stressful events. This development can take the form of strengthened social bonds, greater self-confidence, the development of new abilities/skills, or simply a greater appreciation of life.
This study presents the different types of emotional regulation and shows that cognitive re-evaluation of stressful situations is one of the most effective strategies.Webb, T. L., Miles, E., & Sheeran, P. (2012). Dealing with feeling: a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of strategies derived from the process model of emotion regulation. Psychological bulletin, 138(4), 775.
Mindfulness meditation, a set of techniques that includes being "here and now", is an effective approach to managing stress, anxiety, and emotional distress.Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S. E., & Fournier, C. (2015). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 78(6), 519-528.
Creative artistic practice (music, dance or movement, art, theatre or staging) helps to reduce stress levels.Martin, L., Oepen, R., Bauer, K., Nottensteiner, A., Mergheim, K., Gruber, H., & Koch, S. C. (2018). Creative arts interventions for stress management and prevention-a systematic review. Behavioral Sciences, 8(2), 28.
Physical activity reduces anxiety and depression.Rebar, A. L., Stanton, R., Geard, D., Short, C., Duncan, M. J., & Vandelanotte, C. (2015). A meta-meta-analysis of the effect of physical activity on depression and anxiety in non-clinical adult populations. Health psychology review, 9(3), 366-378.
Positive psychology interventions aimed at enhancing positive emotions are effective in terms of emotional regulation.Quoidbach, J., Mikolajczak, M., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Positive interventions: An emotion regulation perspective. Psychological bulletin, 141(3), 655
Cognitive re-evaluation of negative emotional experience is related to a more appropriate cardiovascular response to stress and cognitive benefits related to lower stress levels.Jamieson, J. P., Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Mind over matter: Reappraising arousal improves cardiovascular and cognitive responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 417.
Stress is not necessarily negative. It can be optimized by changing your state of mind: "stress can be good for me". This state of mind has positive effects on the level of stress and its consequences.Crum AJ, Jamieson JP, Akinola M. Optimizing stress: An integrated intervention for regulating stress responses. Emotion. 2020;20(1):120-125. doi:10.1037/emo0000670
Post-traumatic development is defined as "the experience of positive change following exposure to a critical event".Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological inquiry, 15(1), 1-18.