This is a question that I have seen pop up from time to time, and I thought it was worth asking.
First, the obvious: Virtually everyone in the country, if not the modern world, has seen a massive degree of disruption and pain as a result of the Coronavirus. That disruption is likely to continue for some time. Work schedules have been disrupted, unemployment has shot through the roof, and millions around the world will likely be sickened by this disease before we get it under control. As I type this entry, 886,000+ people have been sickened with Corona, and 44,200+ have died. Those numbers are unquestionably low. And they will rise much, much higher before this is all said and done.
As I mentioned in my entry on Saturday, I’ve been grateful for many things, with a particular emphasis on the extensive amount of time that has been placed on helping people who are going to suffer emotionally as a result of the quarantine, economic disruption and more. Sadly, this is happening, and with tragic results. In my area, we just had a murder-suicide of someone who was apparently distressed over the pandemic and his job loss.
Let me take this issue, then, and turn it on its head. We spend a ton of time in the mental health world discussing all the things that are wrong. What about the things that are right?
So, here’s the magic question: What can we learn about people who are doing better, emotionally, as a result of the Coronavirus?
Believe it or not, they are out there. But my observation is that they almost entirely have a certain set of circumstances. Some we can learn from, some we can’t, and some will have you yelling at me for stating the obvious.
- They are economically secure. It’s almost impossible to be in an emotionally secure place when your finances are in the air. So, these are folks who are either independently wealthy or have no financial worries in the near future.
- The quarantine has made positive changes to their schedule. That means that they are glad they are stuck at home, but still getting paid.
- The like the fact that they suddenly have so much free time. They suddenly can pursue passion projects, write the next Great American Novel, learn how to play the guitar or are otherwise in some sort of position of privilege.
- Odds are good that they have been able to enjoy the outdoors more than usual, and they are happier about that.
What are the lessons from this, besides the obvious conclusion that being born wealthy and in a position of privilege is awesome for your mental health?
Seriously, there are more. The broader conclusion is both societal and individual.
Here it is: Society and culture matters for our mental health. Folks, if you’re in a job that you can’t stand, and suddenly you can’t go and you feel better, well…maybe that speaks volumes about your job. And maybe that shows just how important external factors are towards determining your mental health. I think this is something we forget about. Too many of us lay the blame for our mental illness on ourselves: Our upbringing. Our genetics. Our brains. Maybe, just maybe, your job sucks, and it makes you depressed.
The broader conclusion, and the lessons I hope we can learn from this, is that certain changes in our lifestyle and in the way we chose to live our lives can make us happy. That’s not to say that it’s time to hop in the car and drive to Mexico, screaming “ADIOS!” all the way down South.
But it is to say that you have to understand how real-life affects your real life. And I hope you can use this time to take advantage of whatever the quarantine is teaching you.