Resilience in the Coronavirus Crisis

27 May, 2020
In these days of crisis and anxiety, it's more important than ever to work on our resilience. It's an exercise in transformation, starting from vulnerability and learning how to let our strengths flourish to cope better with the here and now and the future.

It’s a buzzword, we know, but it’s still necessary and inspiring. Applying resilience in the coronavirus crisis isn’t just a suggestion or a message to share on social media. We’re dealing with a psychological health exercise that’s key to unlocking treasures that can transform our daily lives.

First of all, resilience isn’t a trait. It certainly isn’t a mechanism that human beings activate as an automatic pilot when things get complicated. Instead, it’s more of a process, a muscle that you need to exercise and strengthen, knowing that it’ll fail you some days and leave you feeling weaker and barely able to sustain the weight of the world.

In order for Nietzsche’s famous saying, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”, to come true, you need to ensure that you don’t let adversity knock you down or take away all your resources indefinitely. And this is something that can happen to any of us at any given time.

We can all fall, and even give up for a time. However, there’s an obligation to emerge from the ruins and rise from your own ashes ablaze with hope and courage.

Again, we want to emphasize that this is a complex process that requires commitment. Blossoming from among the debris and ruins is one of the most complicated but beautiful processes a human can go through.

A flower in a trunk.

Lessons in resilience in the coronavirus crisis

Living a good life is a process, not a state, said Carl Rogers, psychotherapist and exponent of the humanistic approach in psychology.

The same goes for suffering, fear, and crises. Suffering isn’t a state of being, we aren’t here to suffer, nor is it obligatory to have a bad time in order to know what life is all about. Pain should always be something temporary and should just be another process in life.

However, for this process to be brief and help us adapt much better to the complexity of our surroundings, we must learn to be resilient. However, what does that really mean?

In reality, even though we’re used to hearing this term, it’s an idea that comes from the world of physics and that began to be applied to the field of psychology in the 1940s.

Simply speaking, it’s a human being’s capacity to recover from adversity without becoming weakened. However, while physics and engineering emphasize the idea that these “resilient materials” can return to their original state after being impacted, this isn’t the case in psychology.

The truth is that, after someone experiences a difficult situation, they’re never the same. We don’t return to our original state. Instead, we improve and learn new skills to cope better as we make our way through life. Let’s have a closer look at all of this.

No, you aren’t 100% resilient

We need to learn resilience in the coronavirus crisis; we all need to become more resilient. However, something that we know from psychology is that very few people are 100% resilient.

To check out how you’re doing, take a look at the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-25). Test yourself with the following statements:

  • I can easily adapt to change.
  • I can cope effectively with any complication or unforeseen event.
  • On the whole, I try to see the positive side of things when I’m faced with problems.
  • I can deal with stress.
  • I usually recover quite well after an illness, injury, or other difficulties.
  • I’m skilled at achieving my goals.
  • When I’m under pressure, I think and act with clarity and determination.
  • Failure doesn’t discourage me.
  • I consider myself a strong person when I face life’s challenges and difficulties.
  • I skillfully handle emotions such as sadness, fear, and anger.

It’s in your nature and you must develop it

Columbia University conducted a detailed study to discover the psychological impact of 9/11 on the survivors.

One thing they discovered was that the rate of post-traumatic stress wasn’t as high as originally believed. Many of the victims showed remarkable resilience.

Sixty-five percent of the sample demonstrated a remarkable recovery process in which they applied several different strategies. The first was to accept their own vulnerability. They understood that we can all suffer the impact of adversity in our own lives and that we have the “right” to suffer, feel vulnerable, and be hurt.

Also, they understood that everyone has an inner force or strength that can help them on the path to recovery. On that road, we can learn from what we’ve experienced and see our current situation in a better, safer, and even more hopeful way.

A woman with a light.

Resilience in the coronavirus crisis: accepting and preparing for change

Nassim Taleb, the author of books as interesting as The Black Swan, wrote not long ago that there’s an idea about resilience in the coronavirus crisis that we need to understand. Despite the fact that the word “resilience” has become popular, he prefers to eliminate it from this equation.

Resisting means gathering the strength to withstand something that strikes and oppresses us. According to Taleb, this isn’t the time to waste energy by making efforts; it’s a time for acceptance and something else. We must prepare ourselves for change and this means making use of another kind of energy.

Resilience in the coronavirus crisis implies the need for change and transformation. Whoever just tries to resist will always remain in the same place. However, we need to move forward – first by surviving and ensuring well-being.

The future is going to bring a lot of change, and only the resilient heart and mind will be able to adapt and take advantage of this new chapter in society. It’s a good time to reflect on all of this.

  • Bonanno, G. A., Galea, S., Bucciarelli, A., & Vlahov, D. (2006). Psychological resilience after disaster: New York City in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attack. Psychological Science17(3), 181–186. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01682.x