Despite pandemic lockdowns, some experience ‘post-traumatic growth’


Has the last year —  a time for spirituality, existential crisis, and interiority —  forced you to go within and contemplate the purpose and meaning of your life?

Despite the  havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked around the globe, some people have come away from lockdowns with “post-traumatic growth,” according to a new survey in the British Journal of Psychiatry conducted by scientists from the University of Bath.

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“Many respondents in our study emphasized what we had heard anecdotally about some of the positive effects people have derived from leading their lives in quieter, slower ways because of lockdowns,” the study’s lead researcher Dr. Paul Stallard of the University of Bath’s Department for Health said.

The growth includes the reconsideration of what’s really important in life, positive changes in attitudes to new restrictions and expectations, and adoption of a better work/life balance.

“These are important findings. Not only do we identify what some of these positive experiences have been, but we also show that those people who have been able to find those positives had better mental wellbeing than those who did not,” Stallard added. “And it gives us clues about how we might build back happier and healthier by embracing aspects of a quieter life and those small, positives that have emerged from this period.”

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The data was collected between May and June of 2020, with 385 participants who were caregivers for children aged 6-16 in the United Kingdom and Portugal. 

About half reported income reduction; 70% were now remote workers doing their jobs from home; 93% of their kids were now being homeschooled and 1 in 5 said at least one family member was suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19.

The survey also reported:

  • 48% described a growth in family relationships,
  • 22% described feeling a greater appreciation for life,
  • 16% described spiritual growth,
  • 11% described discovering and embracing new opportunities and possibilities.

“It is important, especially in these moments of high adversity, to find meaning and purpose in these experiences,” the study’s co-author Dr. Ana Isabel Pereira of the University of Lisbon said. “In each moment, we can find new ways to connect and build stronger connections with our children, partner or friends; to choose how we can make the best use of this time of confinement and to help others in the community experiencing more adversity or with fewer resources navigate this period.”



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