Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resources can help us cope with disaster-related stress during a pandemic.

Posted May 02, 2020

 Roni Beth Tower
Source: Roni Beth Tower

The COVID-19 pandemic offers unique challenges at all levels. Spiritually, we may wonder about the “meaning” of the pandemic or how may it be reshaping experience. At a cultural level, the economic and political realities present challenges new to much of the world’s population. At the social-psychological level, relationships from the most distant to the most intimate are forced to confront constraints and demands. Psychologically, our thinking, feeling, behaving, and learning can require revision as we adapt to new conditions, endless unknowns, and a future that cannot be predicted.

Similar demands are made at the levels of biological systems as, for example, our neurology adjusts to less external (and perhaps more internal) stimulation; our musculature cries out for exercises that are no longer easily accessible. At the level of organs, our eyes grow tired from staring at screens; our skin shows strains from zealous handwashing. And at the level of basic biology, the plumbing and wiring (or chemistry and physics) of the human body, we marshal resources against a novel virus or scramble to resist the stress hormones with their own inflammation that inevitably arise out of fear responses.

On April 23, 2020, I created a webinar for Yale alumni with some tips for coping according to one’s unique history and style of responding to a perceived threat, concentrating on the relationship (social-psychological) and psychological levels, reflecting the background in which I was trained and perspectives I had developed as a clinician, researcher, and professor over the years. The talk dives more deeply into the uniqueness of our coping with disaster-related stress than my four pieces for Psychology Today. The essays framed (1) coping as confronting what we can and cannot control in the situation and offering some curated resources; (2) ways in which a disaster threatens us at the universal, group, and individual levels; (3) ways in which we easily slide into negative coping strategies; and (4) ways in which the unknown future exacerbates our challenges.

Today I offer additional curated resources, adding to those in my first and third pieces on this topic. They include offerings for learning and entertainment, a brief laugh or inspiration, sources for reliable general information about the novel coronavirus, and useful articles on psychology related to coping with it. We need entertainment, especially laughter, for distraction and to help balance and manage our complex emotions. We need opportunities to learn so that we can feel a sense of growth, mastery, and competence, especially when there is so much that we cannot control. And we need sources of reliable information, reassuring us that we are not alone in what we do and do not know about the situation. 

I hope that some of these may bring you what you want or need. 

Entertainment and Learning:

Lots of things to do (and color) at all levels in this free downloadable activity book from Kripalu.

Wonderful virtual travel opportunities courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler.

Dancers from Paris Opera Ballet stay in shape in quarantine. 

Resources for a virtual family vacation from Bloomberg.

List of (yet more) online activities for kids.

When you need a smile, try the original Bodhisatva in Metro video. The laughter begins at about 2:00 minutes.

Short delights:

A music teacher writes a song about her experience in lockdown.

French musicians play "Bolero." 

A neighborhood in Buffalo breaks out in dance.

The Orchestre de France films a short benefit concert for UNICEF

Professional information on the virus:

The level of unknowns is unprecedented.

The importance of sleep for the immune system and ways to help promote sleep from the New York Times.

An interview with Frank Snowden on epidemics, history, and what we can learn.

Harvard Medical School Resource Center

Yale on the importance of remaining quarantined following isolation

Video for making a mask from the Washington Post.

On the psychology of coping with the pandemic:

Psychologist Lori Gottlieb on the inevitability of feeling the pain of the "little" losses as our lives and expectations change in response to the pandemic.

Yale School of Management psychology professor Marissa King muses on ways that the pandemic may shape relationships in the future.

A few minutes of tips on helping teens from a Yale psychiatrist.

Frank Bruni in the New York Times on the downside of social distancing.

Video meditations and other coping offerings from Headspace. 

A superb guide to Pandemic Parenting in the Digital Age by Elizabeth Milovidov. 

Copyright 2020 Roni Beth Towe