Looking for the bright side: COVID lockdown and post-traumatic personal growth

Key points

  • According to a survey conducted during the first wave of the pandemic, some people found that the COVID-19 crisis is beneficial to mental health.
  • More than 88% of respondents believe that the pandemic has had a positive impact.
  • These are most commonly related to “post-traumatic growth”, such as improving interpersonal relationships, a deeper understanding of life, and positive mental changes.

The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a devastating blow to millions of people around the world, and its impact extends far beyond the physical impact of the disease. Studies have found that even people without clinical depression, anxiety or other mood disorders have poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, recent research from the University of Bath in the UK shows that the pandemic has a positive impact on mental health and even leads to post-traumatic growth.

Gina Marie Guarino, LMHC

Post-traumatic growth comes from overcoming the challenges you may encounter when dealing with trauma and learning from the recovery process.

— GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

What the research found


The researchers analyzed a cross-sectional online survey of 385 volunteers who were caring for children between the ages of 6 and 16 who lived in Portugal and the United Kingdom. The investigation was conducted during the peak period of the first wave of COVID-19 during the lockdown, between May 1 and June 27, 2020.

The majority (74%) of the interviewees work entirely from home, and nearly half of the interviewees indicated that their income has decreased. Most of their children (93%) are educated at home, and 19.5% of them report that their family members are suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19.

GinaMarie Guarnio, LMHC

Eliminating distractions has helped many people reconnect with their families and focus on their life goals and professional ambitions.

— GinaMarie Guarnio, LMHC

Although these caregivers face obvious pressure, 88.6% of them believe that the pandemic has had a positive impact. According to the researchers, these are most commonly associated with the “post-traumatic growth area”, including improving interpersonal relationships, better appreciating life, discovering and embracing new possibilities, and positive mental changes. In addition, those who were able to identify positive factors reported better mental health.

Paul Starard, a professor of mental health for children and adolescents at the University of Bath, said the findings were surprising. “We didn’t expect 88% of people to recognize the positive side. Those who can recognize positive factors have better mental health. This fact suggests that focusing on what you have and appreciating the little things we often take for granted may be It helps.”

What is post-traumatic growth?


GinaMarie Guarino, a practicing mental health consultant at LMHC, said the concept has been around for some time, but since the pandemic began, people’s awareness of it has increased.

“Trauma has a lasting effect on a person, but it is a misunderstanding that you cannot recover or grow from the trauma,” she explained. “Post-traumatic growth comes from overcoming the challenges you may encounter when dealing with trauma and learning from the recovery process.”

Paul Starard

Those who can identify positive factors have better mental health, and this fact suggests that focusing on what you have and appreciating the little things we often take for granted can be helpful.

— Paul Starrard

It is undeniable that the pandemic has brought many challenges to people, but this research shows that they can also benefit from it. “Eliminating distractions helps many people reconnect with their families and focus on their life goals and professional ambitions,” Guarino said.

For many people, it also raises the need to deal with mental health and health challenges more independently. “This strengthens and consolidates mental health coping skills,” Guarino added.

In addition, some people are becoming more comfortable with downtime and have found ways to challenge themselves mentally to keep their brains active while preventing boredom.

All challenges in life are relative


Everyone will experience different pandemics due to different circumstances. Some people struggle from time to time and prosper from time to time. This is completely normal.

“Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, challenges and blessings,” Guarino said. “Comparing your unique situation with those of others will only work against you because it deviates from the positive and hopeful view that we all need to recover from the pandemic.”

Paul Starard

It is important to share survey results to provide a more balanced story about COVID-19. There are many news reports about the negative impact on mental health, but people have also discovered some benefits from this difficult situation.

— Paul Starrard

Many people have experienced the guilt of survivors, but Guarino emphasized that the purpose of all closures and efforts to prevent the spread of the virus is to ensure the safety of most people, which is very important. She said: “If you have not faced the test of others around you, then your work to stay healthy and responsible under these special circumstances will not be questioned.”

Although Starrard acknowledged that his investigation has its limitations-first, the small scale and voluntary online nature-he believes that further research is needed to explore post-traumatic growth after the pandemic.

“It is important to share the findings of the investigation to provide a more balanced story about COVID-19,” he said. “There are many news reports about the negative effects of mental health, but people have also found some benefits from this difficult situation.”

What this means to you

Everyone responds to challenges in their own way. If you think your mental health and well-being have benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic to some extent, pay attention to these positive factors-they will help you through these difficult times.

On the other hand, if you feel that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on your mental health, then you are certainly not alone. The help is there. If your low mood affects your ability to perform daily tasks, make decisions, or enjoy things that previously made you happy, please tell your doctor.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.

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