Tips for Building Emotional Resilience During a Pandemic

The pervasive sense of uncertainty experienced in association with COVID-19 causes stress and frustration. It is understandable to experience fear and worry over what is the “new normal” given that there are so many unknowns. The Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE) encourages faculty, staff, and students to examine their own internal resources to help them cope. As CARE clinical case manager C.D. Wright pointed out, “It is imperative that we remind ourselves that the current situation is not permanent.”

It’s important to recognize signs of stress but even more important to remember that we can manage it. “You control how stress affects you,” said Dr. Tiffiny Hughes-Troutman, director of CARE. “The question is: What will you do with that stress? What is in your control? These are uncertain times, and it’s easy to get caught in a state of fear and helplessness.” 

It’s also important to recognize the range of emotions that individuals are facing outside of stress — namely, grief. Many psychological experts have identified a state of collective sorrow with COVID-19. Literature on the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, despair, acceptance) can be applied to what individuals are experiencing with COVID-19. Denial happens when people downplay the impact of the virus, and many feel angry when they can’t go outside or connect with others face to face. Despair occurs when people believe their lives will never be the same again.

Tameka Collins, CARE clinical case manager, said, “This pandemic is a collective trauma that is beyond any one person’s control. Some are hanging on to thoughts of what life used to be like and any notion of when things may return to the way they used to be.”

Hughes-Troutman added, “Remember that we are a strong and resilient community. Research has shown that individuals who go through difficult life experiences arise from them with a greater appreciation of life and somewhat transformed.”

Here are some steps to take on a pathway to resilience: 

  • Create a routine: Be organized and structured, set up a work or study station, schedule meals and snack, and take breaks.
  • Practice self-care: Engage in mindfulness and ensure that you get adequate sleep, physical activity, nutrition, and hydration.
  • Seek support from others: Even though the notion of support looks different these days because of social distancing, maintain social connections virtually and reach out for help when you need it.
  • Take time to journal and reflect: Write in a journal every day, and when you review it in the future, it will remind you how resilient you are.
  • Accept where you are emotionally: Practice self-compassion and give yourself permission to grieve and experience a range of emotions.

Contact the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE) at 404.894.3498 and learn more at care.gatech.edu.

For More Information Contact

Tiffiny Hughes-Troutman
Director, CARE