Survey Reveals: There Could be a Silver Lining to the Pandemic

Kendall Coffman MS., MFT, conducted an internet survey of 251 people to find out more about COVID-19. Snowball samplingTo better understand the effects of the pandemic on our lives, and to find the silver lining to it all, 

The survey had multiple-choice question prompts, prompts that allowed respondents to choose all relevant answers, and short response-style questions.

The results can be divided into two parts: 

  1. Examine the negative effects the pandemic has had upon participants and offer resources to help us navigate the difficulties posed by the pandemic. 
  2. Look for the silver linings of the pandemic you may have missed. 

Part I: The negative effects of the pandemic

This prompt was presented to the survey participants: Please tell us if you feel that the COVID-19 epidemic has negatively affected your life. 

Based on the 200 qualitative responses, themes were identified. The percentage of times they appeared is also listed. The theme is an example. Loss of connection40% of the participant answers included this theme. (Note: Participants may have named more than one theme in their responses, which is why both sections of the report show more than 100).

Individualized Themes

Participants expressed concern over a variety of categories.

  • Loss of connection (isolation) – 40%
  • Quarantine/travel sadness (can’t go anywhere) – 23%
  • Mental health concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression, and motivation) – 17.5%
  • Economy worries/employment issues – 14%
  • Someone I know was impacted/at-risk – 12.5%
  • Negative school experience – 9.5%
  • Fear/concern for future/my own risk – 6.5%
  • Conflict with friends/family or conflict with “non-believers” – 5%
  • Frustration (e.g., mask mandates or inadequate government response) – 5%

The individualized themes that surfaced can be further categorized, so let’s dig deeper.

Grouped Topics

These four groups can be used to group all these concerns at a higher-level.

1. Quarantine struggles, isolation, and connection

Nearly two-thirds of participants — 63% — expressed concerns over their immobility and the fact that, forced to shelter in place, many participants felt a loss of connection with other people, leading to feelings of isolation.

2. Concern for the safety of self and others

Slightly more than one-third of participants — 36.5% — were either worried that someone they know was impacted by the virus or at higher risk of getting infected or that they themselves would be exposed to the virus. It’s not surprising that many participants felt anxious and depressed due to these concerns.

3. Economy, school, and employment

Roughly one-quarter of respondents — 23.5% — indicated they had negative experiences at school or were worried about their employment or the overall state of the economy. This is understandable, since schools were forced to Rapidly transition to remote learningBusinesses were forced to close their doors. unemployment numbers skyrocketed.

4. Conflict with other people

Additionally, one out of every 10 participants either expressed frustration with mask mandates and the government’s response to the pandemic or expressed concerns over conflict with friends and family members — or conflicts with non-believers, i.e., those who think the pandemic is a “scam” of sorts.

These Themes: Resources for Coping

If you are experiencing any of these impacts, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. You can overcome these difficulties by taking a proactive approach to your problems and seeking qualified help.

 Resources that you can use to conquer negative feelings and get back to living your best life are outlined below: 

1. Quarantine struggles, isolation, and connection

2. Concern for the safety of self and others

3. Economy, school, and employment

4. Conflict with other people

If you’re having a hard time getting along with friends, family members, and acquaintances, consider these tips from Advent Health:

  • Recognize the fact that people have different views about risk. For example, one person might believe skydiving to be the best thing in the universe while another might be scared of it.
  • Communicate your fears and reflect on them
  • Refer to trusted resources
  • Encourage your loved ones’ empathy and compassion.
  • Find some quiet time to find common ground 
  • Be kind and open-minded.
  • Use stories, not statistics 
  • Stay connected in ways that preserve your comfort zone
  • Consider getting together at a time that doesn’t warrant a meal to avoid abrasive, uncomfortable conversations
  • Let it go, and let it be

Although this list is not comprehensive, it can be used as a guide to help you improve your outlook on life and build a better tomorrow. 

These Findings: Takeaways

These findings are not representative of all experiences. Each person will have different experiences depending on how they are placed in society and their access to resources.

These findings invite us to reflect back on the past year or two and think about what we need to do in order to create new colors for our future.

Part II: The Silver Lining to the Pandemic 

Yes, there were many silver-linings to the pandemic that participants to our survey saw. 

Participants were given this prompt to collect their results: If you feel that the COVID-19 epidemic has had a positive impact on your life, please tell us in a few words..

Based on the 142 responses, five themes emerged.

Themes

  1. Deeper connections (more time with family and friends; better relationships) – 39.4%
  2. Positive personal changes (increased gratefulness; personal growth; perspective change) – 31.6%
  3. Improved school or work situations (improved quality of job or school; improved finances; got to work from home or do remote learning) – 24.6%
  4. Better self-care (improved physical and/or emotional health) – 11.9%
  5. Got to spend more time at home (more time for chores; didn’t have to travel) – 11.2%

Could there be good things about COVID-19

This preliminary study on the effects of COVID-19 reveals some of the unexpected and resilient silver linings to the pandemics that many have experienced in the past two years. Check out the following themes to find out more.

Connection

All of us are wired to be social creatures. There can be suffering if there is no connection. This is evident in Part 1 of this article. It shows that the COVID era was marked by a lack of quality relationships and connections. 

One silver lining is that many people have become more intentional about their connections and are able to spend more quality time at home with their loved ones. One participant shared the following:

“I was able to take time with my family at our house. We would be doing other activities otherwise. I had time to write Christmas cards and connect with people far away since we weren’t going places.”

Personal change

One of the most striking themes emerged from the data: participants used the pandemic as a way to improve their lives. In fact, many participants said that they’ve reprioritized, reorganized, and evolved as a result of the pandemic and its societal ramifications.

For example, two participants said: 

“I believe people’s lives have dramatically slowed and that has given them time to learn more about themselves.”

“I have grown as a person and discovered myself.”

School Improvements/Employment

Nearly one quarter of participants reported that their school or work life was improved by the pandemic. Some participants attributed this to the fact that they could work from home. Others found that slowing down the world helped them to get centered and do great work. 

Self-care

Self-care is similar to the personal transformation theme, but it was so common that it was appropriate to give it its own theme. While the personal change theme specifically addresses a change in perspective or self-examination, the self-care theme addresses the intentional self-act to care more for one’s own emotional and physical well-being. 

Spend more time at home 

Last but not least, 10% of participants stated that they are happy to spend more time at home without any travel requirements. Some participants stated that they were able complete tasks that they wouldn’t normally be able (e.g. home projects or hobbies).

Kendall Coffman: Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 era continues its pervasive impact on society and all of us individually. The goal for this project was to help identify the struggles we’re all facing to see that we’re not alone in any of this, to help you see that there was a silver lining to the pandemic, and to get help to walk through any issues you haven’t resolved yet. 

Additionally, I hoped that we could also see how we’ve evolved as human beings, areas of prospective change, and moments of gratitude. 

Thank you to all who shared their stories. These findings may bring you comfort as we start another year full of uncertainty.

Therapists: Did we mention that our members have the opportunity to publish on our blog? Learn more in your Member’s Area.




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