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Wellbeing in the time of COVID-19: A Strengths Perspective

It’s a confusing and stressful time in the world right now. As the situation relating to COVID-19 unfolds, including rolling news reports, travel restrictions, cancellations of planned public events, closures of public spaces, and concerns for our own and our loved ones’ health – people can experience a wide range of thoughts, feelings and reactions. There are a lot of questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19), and not a lot of definitive answers. In these times, it’s especially important that you lean on our character strengths. There are ways you can use your best inner qualities to help you and your children to be safe. Take measured action, engage in prevention, and keep yourselves balanced enough to make good decisions and promote positive wellbeing, among the sometimes-hysterical society swelling around you.

Name Your Positive Coping Strategies So Far

What have I/we have done well so far to cope with the anxieties or stress related to the Coronavirus? For example, if your response has to do with frequent handwashing, then you can see prudenceself-kindness, and self-regulation there. The sharing of basic resources with those in need demonstrates kindnessfairness and love. If your response involves using exercise or activity to keep your immune system strong, then your strength of zest would be a part of this. Coming up with new activities at home to do with your family reflects the strengths of creativity and leadership in action. 

Strength of Judgment/Critical Thinking

Focus on the facts, not just the scary media stories and exercise your judgment/critical thinking by asking yourself:

  • What are the facts here? 
  • What are the actual details, as opposed to one pundit’s opinion?
  • What is driving my actions? Fear or fact?
  • How much exposure to the 24 hour news cycle is helpful/harmful to my wellbeing?
  • Keeping things in perspective

Perspective as a character strength that involves keeping the big picture in mind. While it’s easy to get sucked into atrocious details and a fearful future, perspective reminds us of the wider view of issues, the scope, and the larger whole of the situations past, present, and future. This is not to say there’s nothing to worry about, or that we are not disappointed by the necessary disruptions that closure & cancellations have caused. Still, perspective helps us step back and say – what’s the more significant reality for me and others? 

Prudence

With caution levels heightened, prudence is being collectively elevated in society. There is sound wisdom in this. You can use your prudence to think before you act, to plan, to prepare, and to prevent. Think safety first for other as well as ourselves. Before you engage in activities in public or being around larger groups of people, make a plan that will take the necessary precautions and prioritize health.

Self-Regulation

This character strength involves being disciplined about the habits of health and wellbeing. In addition, it means to manage your temptations and frustrations, limit your bad choices, and maintain an attitude of kindness and hope. Be disciplined about the recommended health habits, such as handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, monitoring handshaking, and your general behaviour within and towards individuals and groups. 

Manage Your Strengths Overuse and Underuse

A common phenomenon at times of heightened stress is that we can overuse or underuse any of our strengths. We can see this play out in any problem, conflict, or stressor. The Coronavirus situation is no different. If you find yourself or your children overreacting, getting lost in worries, avoiding things that typically give you pleasure, feeling confused about what action to take, or other problems related to the coronavirus situation, then examine which of your strengths you might be overusing or underusing. For example:

  • Overusing your love of learning by watching the news 20 hours a day? Yes, you should learn about what’s happening, and the details but too much of this strength can leave you drained, panicked, and downright disturbed. If this sounds like you, consider taking a news ‘fast’ for a short period. Or, allow yourself to only receive a news summary at the end of the day.
  • Don’t underuse your creativity. If you find yourself being a shut-in and becoming bored at home, turn to your creativity. Use your indoor location as an opportunity to come up with creative games and activities you can do with your family or loved ones. Create a virtual holiday by utilizing technology to take you to place and events you have always wanted to visit. Perhaps it’s time to pick up a paintbrush, plant edibles in your garden, start a blog or become a poet? Now is the time!

As you reflect on the news that unfolds, the media that offers perspectives, and the stories that challenge your sense and sensibilities, remember you and each member of your family have a wide range of character strengths you can immediately call upon, to support you in your decisions and actions. These are your personal resources that support and guide you in prevention, making good decisions, and promoting good health & wellbeing for you and your family.

In the coming weeks, the counselling team will be available for consultation via email and telephone by appointment. While there is an abundance of resources available online, we will be providing Homestead staff with additional resources that support and promote positive student wellbeing by continuing to strengthen and engage students in their own wellbeing practice.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if need be.

In kindness,

DONNA NAIRN
Director of Counselling