Pandemic Stress and Resilience

By Amy Dickinson | January 21st, 2022

A problem we can all relate to

COVID mental health repercussions as man in mask peers sadly out the window. A picture of pandemic stress

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson responds to a problem that nearly all honest Americans these days can relate to: pandemic stress and the resilience we must draw upon to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Dear Amy:

I think this is a tall order, but I am asking for your thoughts about how to process the experience of the last couple of years.

I am overwhelmed by all of the sadness, division, dislocation, and loss, and I wonder if the pandemic has scarred me permanently.

I’m curious about your perspective on this.

– Distressed

Dear Distressed:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try and tackle your very big question.

In response, I’m offering up two of my favorite modern philosophers: Viktor Frankl and Dolly Parton.

Frankl, a psychiatrist, was imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp, where all of his captive family members (and over 1 million others) were murdered. He survived.

His important book about this experience, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” (current edition: 2006, Beacon Press) offers indelible lessons about resilience.

Boiled down, Frankl’s belief is that human beings can find meaning and the motivation to persevere through suffering by unlocking their sense of purpose, and by developing a rich inner life.

On to Dolly, who said, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

At some point, we in North America seem to have absorbed the belief that life was supposed to be easy for us.

It is not.

Surely the pandemic experience has connected us to other humans throughout time, who have experienced war, hunger, trauma, and dislocation.

This is tough, but it is not the worst.

Personally, you can see your scars as evidence that you cannot heal, or you can emerge wounded, but determined to grow.

I say – lead with your scars; they are proof of your humanity.

Is pandemic stress trauma … or something different?

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from pandemic stress to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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