How Character Strengths Build Psychological Immunity During COVID

Are you feeling worried, anxious, overwhelmed?

Did you know that pragmatically applying your character strengths can boost your coping skills and enhance wellbeing during a pandemic such as COVID?

Research in 2020 found that the most stressful experiences around COVID were reading or hearing about the severity and contagiousness of COVID; uncertainty about lockdown durations and social distancing (Arora & Grey, 2020; Buttell, & Ferreira, 2020). If you are a teacher, lack of consultation or certainty around your work is undoubtably a huge cause of stress and frustration. Parents did you know that principals and teachers find out about homeschooling like you do – via the media!! 🙁 

Typical coping strategies the general population used were distraction, seeking information and utilising social media (Klaiber et al., 2020).

So what are some helpful protective behaviours we can adopt? I know there are changes others could make, but let’s consider what is within our control. How can we use positive psychology to enhance whole school wellbeing?

4 Ways Character Strengths Boost School Wellbeing

1. Applying our VIA character strengths helps us to reframe and reappraise challenges, allowing a greater sense of perspective. For instance whilst we may not be grateful for lockdowns we may be grateful for more time with family members (?!) and less commitments. I know I’m not missing fighting traffic on Parramatta Road to get to Netball!!

2. A strength focus can mitigate excessive worry. Focusing on our character strengths rather than our inadequacies can reduce our negative thoughts. Consider which strength will you use tomorrow, how will you use it differently? For instance your energy strength – will you do a Youtube workout, Yoga with Adriene or Just Dance instead of going for the same old walk!

3. Utilising our top strengths can elicit positive emotions and energise us. Have you used your humour, teamwork, kindness or perspective strength today? How did that feel? Did you spot character strengths in students? Using and spotting strengths builds school wellbeing.

4. Enacting our character strengths help us not only to ‘feel good’ but to ‘do good’ in the community, so others benefit. For instance using our kindness to leave a note or gift on a family members pillow or writing a note of gratitude towards ever pivoting teachers, spreads connection and positive emotions.

Interested in implementing Character Strengths in your school? Check out our Positive Psychology initiative Strong Mind

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