Post-Traumatic GrowthStudies looking at natural disasters show the “tend and befriend” response actually reduces incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder and promotes “post-traumatic growth.” These are positive psychological changes that happen in response to a traumatic event, including increased resilience, self-confidence, greater empathy, and improved subjective wellbeing.
Coming TogetherSo is it possible we might experience similar growth during the novel coronavirus pandemic? Based on past psychological research, we will. However, researchers also acknowledge that experiencing this level of crisis will bring about painful emotions, uncertainty, physical suffering, and psychological distress. How we cope with this—either through the “fight or flight” or “tend and befriend” response—is vital to our psychological health as individuals and as a community.
Though stress is an understandable response during a time like this, choosing how you respond to it is important. The “tend and befriend” response will help us consider others in our community, and may be important for social distancing, and increasing charitable responses or acts of kindness. In the midst of a global crisis, this adaptive stress response may not only reduce incidents of anger, prejudice, and violence, but may also foster collective humanity and post-pandemic growth.