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The Collective and Community Trauma of COVID-19

Right now it’s critical that we normalize the mental, emotional, and physical stress that we are experiencing. Being emotionally affected by COVID-19 doesn’t mean you aren’t strong, nor does it reflect on your skill as a clinician or your professional identity. It only means that you are human. This article talks about COVID-19 as a collective trauma for our communities and highlights the need for considering our mental health now, not only after the fact.

“Feeling intermittently (or constantly) on edge, worried or sleepless are normal ‘fight-or-flight’ reactions to this trauma. We are not going crazy. We are simply coping with a new reality — whether we are sick or not.”

I encourage you all to take some time to reflect on the specific ways you are feeling affected by COVID-19 stress. Talk to your colleagues, family/friends, or a professional about it. It can help you to feel validated and supported, which can decrease any negative future impact on your mental health.

The Science of Helping Out

The NY Times below breaks down how helping others, in big and small ways, improves our own ability to face challenges.

Notably, the article also describes how supporting your colleagues as they cope with COVID19- related stress can be an effective way to improve your own COVID stress. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Dr. Grant said we often are better at giving advice to people other than ourselves. “One of the best things you can do is call someone else facing a similar problem and talk them through it,” said Dr. Grant… “When you talk other people through their problems, you come up with wiser perspectives and solutions for yourself.”

Learn More: The Science of Helping Out

How Our Minds Try to Make Sense of the Pandemic

This short article highlights two errors our minds make when trying to make sense of the pandemic and offers a solution. It’s from the “How to Build a Life” biweekly column in The Atlantic by Arthur Brooks.

Having words to describe our more complicated psychological experiences can be really grounding,
and it can also help us better manage them!

That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief

Even though they may be temporary, we’re all experiencing losses right now; these could include the loss of predictability, routine, safety, etc. It’s helpful to put words to some of our experiences and, to quote the article, “If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.”

Learn More: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

Moral Injury During COVID-19

This is a short article that frames the COVID-19 pandemic as a war against an “invisible enemy.” The author worked as an Army nurse and shares some strategies for preventing moral injury when faced with unbearably challenging circumstances.

Learn More: Lessons from a Different War for Preventing Moral Injury Among Clinicians Treating COVID-19

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