Can there be meaningful growth out of the pandemic?
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
As disruptive and frightening as the rapid takeover of the coronavirus has been, it has forced all of us to take a hard stop. This interruption of daily life on a global scale is unprecedented and, as a result, immensely unsettling. Early days of the shutdown had us pleading for a rapid return to our “normal lives.” However, we would be remiss if, once the virus has run its course, we as humanity return as we were without reflective change and growth. In recent years, psychological concepts such as mindfulness, self-care, work-life balance, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, wellness, mind-body connection, etc., have infiltrated a mainstream hungry for meaningful change. Now, in the solitude of social distancing, we have the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important in our personal lives and as a society. People are spending day after day with their children and families. Work and education modalities have changed and associated expectations shifted. We are demonstrating extreme concern and compassion for our elders and those community members that are most vulnerable. Never before have we had an opportunity to start anew, mindfully engaging in activities that are in-line with our priorities and values. Although the pain experienced post-trauma should not be undermined, survivors often describe the search for meaning in the period following traumatic event(s). Positive psychological change, or post-traumatic growth, can occur as a result of extreme adversity. The researchers who coined the term describe five domains of post-traumatic growth including “seeing new possibilities, changed relationships, the paradoxical view of being both stronger yet more vulnerable, a greater appreciation for life, and changes in the spiritual and existential domain.” We are resilient and can experience meaningful growth individually and societally in the wake of this experience. Only time will tell how we chose to move forward together.