What Positive Psychology can contribute to the pandemic

The mental and societal effects of the pandemic

The mental and societal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are unprecedented. Since the first SARS-CoV-2 Virus symptoms were discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, the world as we know it has drastically changed. Covid has made it to our doorstep and each and every one of us has been having to deal with its consequences for a long time now.


It’s led to significant travel restrictions and ad-hoc border closures up to the point at which whole families were stuck outside of their home country or separated in different countries for months on end. It has fundamentally changed the way we work and many of us have had to convert our dining room table into an office desk with home-schooled children crawling underneath the table, while we are trying to have one meeting after another.


Moreover, we’ve learned to adapt our behaviour to wearing a face mask, keeping 1.5 meters distance and frequently disinfecting our hands. We’ve learned to adapt our language to include terms such as social distancing, lockdown, shelter in place and super-spreader. But have we learned to adapt our minds to the missing mimicry in faces, the missing dynamic of social interactions and the missing touch of family and friends?


The importance of mindset, perspective and Positive Psychology

As this question falls into the realm of Psychology, its worth noting a recent podcast by the American Psychological Association with Professor Dr. Martin Seligman on how Positive Psychology can help us navigate through the pandemic. Positive Psychology scientifically studies the protective factors that help people live healthy lives. It’s not so much interested in what makes us ill, but rather in what keeps us healthy. According to Professor Seligman, one of the key factors in overcoming the pandemic, is to be optimistic and hopeful about the future.


While this is easier said than done, one thing that can help, is to put things into perspective. Taking a look into our history books, we realize that humans have overcome pandemics before such as the Plague, Cholera, the Spanish Flu and others. It’s easy to forget this when we’re surrounded by discussions about Covid at home, at work and in the media. It’s not to say that these discussions aren’t important, but they’re narrowing our focus to only this pandemic. And this can impact our mental health negatively.


Instead, getting some distance by putting things in perspective and understanding that this is not the first pandemic in human history can help. It can help us to understand that we’re incredibly resilient, that this pandemic too will end and that there is hope for the future. Thinking this way can essentially reduce negative feelings, anxiety and contribute to our overall mental health.


Essentially, the only thing that we can currently change is our mindset. We’re better of if this is optimistic and hopeful.


Find more resources for incorporating Positive Psychology into your daily life here.


Foto: Elly Fairytale

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