COVID-19 (coronavirus) Featured Mental health

Finding hope and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pieces of a heart is held by members of the community.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our daily routines with changes here at home and around the globe such as; self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing, it’s comforting to know that amid the uncertainty, there are still moments of strength and hope that showcase the resilience, or grit, that people share in times like these that will help us get through this together.

“People are reaching out more, either by telephone, social media or video-calling, due to a need for support, connection, and hope during this difficult time,” says Dr. Carolyn Boulos, Sunnybrook psychiatrist.

“People can easily get lonely, and crave a boost to their morale. Self-isolation can cause more anxiety, which in turn leads to weakened immune systems, and these inspiring moments can help individuals feel a little less lonely and a little more hopeful.”

Working together in the community

There are stories of good Samaritans offering to pick up groceries or help with other tasks for neighbours and even strangers who unable to leave their homes. It’s one example of how communities are coming together to help those who are more vulnerable in this emergency, and to also reconnect with their community.

Some grocery stores have designated times for seniors to shop so that the elderly, and those with health concerns, are be able to shop in a less crowded space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It helps to see society working together towards a common goal and actions like these help show that more vulnerable populations such as the elderly are important, that they need help and consideration, and deserve respect,” explains Dr. Boulos.

Inspiring moments

There have also been moments of care and kindness that have been captured during this pandemic that have gone viral, such as photos of a granddaughter sharing news of her engagement with her grandfather from outside of his retirement home window. Despite being apart on the opposite sides of the glass – the family is still sharing a poignant and beautiful moment together.

You may have also seen and heard the inspiring videos of quarantined citizens in France, Spain, Italy and other countries applauding health care workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tributes to nurses, doctors and medical professionals fighting the coronavirus are also being shared in communities and online.

“Showing gratitude and appreciation can help give these workers a much-needed boost to continue working,” says Dr. Boulos. “Giving gratitude also helps individuals feel better and makes this difficult time more bearable as we can see hope at the end of the tunnel.”

Connecting despite social distance

Despite quarantines and social distancing – connections are still being made all around the world. During the lockdown in Italy, some of those quarantined are lifting their spirits through music or dance, another wonderful example of how community is showing resilience.

To help people stay connected through this self-isolation period, some music artists and bands are offering fans free concerts on social media, or online music lessons.

Dr. Boulos says while COVID-19 is changing routines, it’s also an opportunity to reconnect in new ways.

“Families can slow down and reflect on their relationships with each other. Some are touching base over telephone or with technology to keep up their connections,” explains Boulos. “For family members living in the same house, assuming, no one is ill, there is now more time to do old-fashioned bonding through board games, talking, eating together, cooking or baking together or sharing stories. One way of staying active together is going for a walk, but it’s important to keep a distance of two metres from others and to stay home when you’re sick.”

“Remember that maintaining good immune systems also depends on proper sleep, exercise, eating a healthy diet, community and good coping strategies. This is an opportunity as parents to be role models to our children. Remaining calm, allowing then to express their concerns, and suggesting activities and relaxation strategies that we can participate in with them can help build connection and resilience, as well as healthy bodies and minds.”

Dr. Boulos adds, “This is a unique time in which we can slow down, reflect, listen, and show gratitude towards one another.”

Gratitude is another way of finding happiness in these uncertain times.

“Although it is not an ideal situation, we have been given a chance to re-assess our priorities and be present for another. Always look for the silver lining in times of duress, as this will help us get through. During this time, being present and fostering healthy relationships is key.”

A chance to get closer, connect, and see the good happening in these difficult times, and despite the uncertainty, know that there is hope and resilience in the world.


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Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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