Resilience During COVID-19

Tips for Improving & Maintaining Resilience During COVID-19

Estimated watch time: 6 mins 20 secs


COVID-19 is testing all of our resiliency. An important part of developing resilience right now is assessing how we’re spending our time and what we’re surrounding ourselves with, whether that’s positive or negative. This lesson guides you through an evaluation of what you’re doing to stay balanced in the face of a traumatic experience.

Video Materials:


Resilience During COVID-19

As you’ve moved through each of the modules in this lesson, you are now aware that resilience is a process of adaptation when exposed to adversity, and is developed over time, varying in response from person to person. Despite individual differences in response to challenging or traumatic events, now, more than ever, we are collectively experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether we have been ill ourselves, have had to refrain from seeing family or friends, have lost a loved one, are extremely isolated, or are experiencing one or more of the many added stressors resulting from daily life changes. The constant media stream has created amplified stress, fear, anxiety and worry about the present and future, while adding uncertainty as to which sources to trust for our news and information.

Although no one has a handbook for how to handle a global pandemic, researchers and clinicians have looked toward work from prior, large-scale traumatic events, such as the SARS outbreak, 9/11 terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, to name a few. From this research, we do know that during challenging times such as these, there is a substantial increase in mental health and substance use disorders, with potentially significant, long-term psychological effects, and specific groups of individuals may be disproportionately impacted. As many continue to be isolated from their support systems, with reduced access to so many needs, it has never been more important to pay attention to our personal needs while recognizing and building upon ways to cope and promote resilience.

Additionally, traumatic experiences akin to the worldwide pandemic we’re experiencing, are testing not only our individual resilience, but also the resilience of systems in which we rely on heavily, such as our family system, our work system, the greater medical system, and any other collective organization we communicate with. How we respond both individually and within each group will further test and expand our resilience.

So, what do we do with this and how does resilience play a role in coping during COVID-19, given that most of us have never experienced anything like this before?

Well… if you take one thing away from this lesson, I hope it is the importance of balance.

One common thread across a variety of recent research surrounding individuals and systems successfully adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic, is with the ongoing goal of balance, leading to more resilient thoughts and behaviors. We all experience a range of emotions and both positive and negative thoughts, right? If these experiences are too heavily weighted on one side, we may become more and more skewed in our thinking and behavior, and less able to cope with daily stressors or reality. Another example I like to use is thinking about a healthy childhood development. There is a balance between protection and freedom to explore and develop autonomy, right? If a child is too heavily patrolled, or, if a child is significantly or consistently neglected, they may not develop into healthy, independent adults with the range of social and emotional skills needed to move throughout the world. Similarly, we can take a balanced approach toward the content we expose ourselves to, the people we connect with, and the expectations we have of ourselves and others.

One relevant example may be struggling with friends or family who are overwhelmed with the news and updates on COVID-19 related cases, or the most current research on the disease. We can STILL be informed of these updates, even if we take a more balanced approach by limiting our content and balancing it with positive, or more neutral content, or other resilience promoting activities discussed in prior modules. So, think about how much time you spend watching the news vs taking a walk outside or listening to music or a favorite podcast? (pause) Where might you shift some of your time and energy to balance your intake or interactions toward content that is more balanced or productive in other ways?

Similarly, how is balance reflected in your relationships? How do you feel after communicating with those you interact with the most? (pause)

If you have found this time to be particularly challenging, here are a few questions to consider:

  1. Are your basic needs being met? Do you have access to food, shelter, health care, and communication? Where do you have more resources vs where you might have less?
  2. Community: Many have and continue to be unable to engage with friends, family or other support. How have you stayed connected to your community? Are you fostering relationships with those who reach out to you, or have you reached out to others? If you are more isolated, are there other ways to engage in community? Can you talk with others for suggestions?
  3. What’s your daily routine like? Does this reflect a regular schedule with achievable goals that can be met, daily?

We encourage you to pause and write down your responses, before we move on to the next module of questions where you’ll be prompted to start working on building these skills.

Resilience During COVID-19 Q’s:

  1. What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic?
  2. How have you found ways to address or problem solve this challenge, or how have you built skills or tools in coping with this challenge?
  3. What has been the biggest support in getting you through this difficult time?
  4. What other ways can you engage your family, friends or co-workers in a way that promotes resilience during this time?

Other Addiction & Mental Health Resources

The Recovery Village has several, free resources for those living with addiction or mental health conditions and their loved ones. From videos, to clinically-hosted webinars and recovery meetings, to helpful, medically-reviewed articles, there is something for everyone. If you need more direct help, please reach out to one of our representatives.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.