COVID-19 Tips: Things mentally strong people do during pandemic

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They understand the news may cause vicarious trauma and limit news and media exposure

The first is how vulnerable they were in their own lives before the crisis. Vulnerable conditions may mean any loss before the pandemic, a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACES), or a history of pre-existing health or mental health issues.

 The second is how much news they consumed during the crisis as this can create vicarious trauma, which can lead to traumatic stress. For example in a study conducted after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, several hours of media exposure after 9-11 were associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and new physical health issues in participants.

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 In another study conducted during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, daily media exposure was associated with increased distress and poorer functioning over the long term compared to those who limited their news and media intake. Mentally strong people limit their news exposure, choose reliable and responsible print/media, and limit exposure to distressful images shown on the news.

They accept their feelings as normal

Again, mentally strong individuals accept their feelings as normal because this is a time for both personal trauma and collective trauma. A resilient individual understands that feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger are normal because the information is too overwhelming to process at once. The American Psychological Association also accepts this from a diagnostic perspective.

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Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (APA-2014), the diagnosis of adjustment disorder with depressed or anxious mood is just that- an adjustment to a stressful life-changing situation. Divorce, death, loss of job, homeschooling, financial problems, and war are all examples of adjusting to a new reality.

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