The pandemic has left many people in a bad state of mind. But those who have two prerequisites have a good chance of surviving the time better.
Reduced social contacts, uncertain future prospects, unemployment or economic fears and additional care work due to school closures: It has long been clear that the psychological consequences of the Corona crisis are serious threats and affect all sections of the population.
But which type of person copes better with the psychological consequences – and which worse? Tatjana Schnell from the University of Innsbruck and the psychologist Henning Krampe from the Charité Berlin have investigated this question. The two of them conducted a survey with more than 1,500 Austrians and Germans, who used questionnaires to assess their psychological experience of the pandemic. The results have now been published in the specialist magazine “Frontiers in Psychiatry”.
Stable social and economic conditions are crucial
Not surprisingly, those who became unemployed as a result of the lockdown and those who lived in cramped conditions or alone suffered more from psychological stress. Solid economic conditions, sufficient living space and living with a partner, on the other hand, resulted in lower stress levels on average.
However, the scientists were particularly interested in two other aspects – which they defined as sense fulfillment and self-control. “In this study, we looked at the influence that the meaning of life factor had on people during and after the restrictive lockdowns. Were people who found a strong sense of purpose in their lives able to cope better with the situation,” Schnell is quoted in a report on the study.
Older people see more meaning – and are often more robust
In general, the researchers have found that older people tend to be psychologically more robust and psychologically more resistant. The data suggest that, on average, they have fewer mental health problems as a result of the pandemic than younger people.
The researcher explains this by the fact that older people often see a stronger sense of purpose in life than younger people: “The sense of purpose increases with age; older people are often better able to adopt metaphorical perspectives and thus benefit more from their life experience in terms of mental stability”.
The second focus, explains Tatjana Schnell further, was on self-control – in other words, on how well the respective people were able to “limit their needs and adapt to the exceptional situation. The ability to control oneself seems to be more of a general character trait for which there is no clear correlation to the age of the people concerned.
Weeks after the lockdown more burdensome for many than lockdown itself
In addition, it was found that the stress level during the actual lockdown tended to be higher than in the weeks following when the measures had already been eased again. The researchers tried to explain this effect also by the sense life and the ability for self-control.
“The problems were apparently less severe during the strict lockdown than afterwards. One source of concern is of course economic losses. Furthermore, our data indicate a possible correlation with the clarity of the situation: During the strict initial lockdown, the situation was clear to everyone. There were clear guidelines and everyone was in the same boat, so to speak. This ‘we can do it’ mood probably had a positive effect on many people,” says the research duo.
When the measures in Germany and Austria actually had an effect and the pandemic did not run as badly as initially feared, many people were no longer able to understand the sense of the measures, which were weakened but still applied, as clearly as before. A paradoxical situation – but one that can help to understand phenomena such as the movement of corona deniers.
When the sense of the situation is not apparent, it is difficult to follow rules
“We assume that self-monitoring has already decreased shortly after the lockdown – but in the meantime it can be observed well by society as a whole – because the meaningfulness of the restrictions is less clearly comprehensible: In Austria and Germany, the measures have worked so well that the situation has not (yet) escalated, which tempts us to question the sense of the measures – the so-called prevention paradox,” the researchers say.
There have also been problems with the communication of political decision-makers, says Tatjana Schnell: “In addition, in recent months communication by the authorities has been less clear and comprehensible. However, if the sense of meaning is not apparent, it is difficult for many people to maintain self-imposed restrictions in the long term”.
Overall, the two researchers conclude that, in addition to social and economic circumstances, the aspects of meaning in one’s own life and the ability to control oneself are crucial in dealing with the psychological consequences of the crisis.
The results cannot simply be generalized
Quickly summarizes the results of the study as follows: “People who saw a strong sense in their lives, however, reported overall less severe psychological stress. The ability of self-control – which is certainly a resource in terms of compliance with restrictions – was also beneficial to mental well-being. Both, sense fulfillment and self-control, acted as a kind of buffer: they weakened the connection between COVID-19 stress and mental strain”.
It should be noted that this is not a representative study, as the respondents were not chosen at random. The participants in the survey were above averagely well educated (58 percent had a university degree, which is only true for about 15 percent of all Germans), 65 percent female and most of them were not infected with Corona themselves (only one percent of the respondents had tested positive themselves). The researchers therefore make it clear that “the results cannot be generalized.
— hp, Source: businessinsider.de. Picture: stockilyapp.com
This post has already been read 437 times!