Use Disaster Psychology Strategies to Survive This Winter
For almost a year we have been experiencing a protracted disaster. This is in contrast to those associated with extreme weather conditions like hurricanes or one-day tragedies like 9/11, which can take years to clear and deal with, but whose actual events are usually limited to a day or two. The COVID-19 pandemic constantly tires (most) us. And while the availability of several effective vaccines is a good sign, there is no end in sight to it all.
As important and helpful as conventional coping strategies for mental health are , many of us need something stronger at this stage. This is where disaster psychology comes in. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) , the goal of disaster psychology is “to reduce initial stress and promote short- and long-term adaptive functioning after a disaster” is all we need right now. Here’s how to apply this approach to keep your mental health safe and sound (or at least as much as possible) during the upcoming pandemic winter.
How to apply disaster psychology during a pandemic
Consider the role of people in “typical” disasters, be they survivors or responders to a tragic event. But as Dr. Amy Nitza, director of the Institute for Mental Health in Natural Disasters at State University of New York at New Paltz, recently noted, COVID is so widespread that many people are playing both roles at the same time. “We educate everyone  on how to take care of themselves and how to support the people around them, ” she said in an interview with Scientific American .
Scientific American editor Melinda Wenner Moyer is worth reading the entire article for specific strategies, but this line gives you an idea of what using disaster psychology might look like during the COVID pandemic:
When people in dire situations can spot the warning signs of mental illness, acknowledge and express their grief, focus on the present moment and the little things they can control, and find ways to connect with others, they can relive the darkest moments and show resilience.
Along the same lines, there is a lot to learn from collective trauma and grief that can be applied to a pandemic, but we will leave that for another day.