It wasn’t just fear of disease that caused anxiety and depression to spike during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a study on the mental health effects of Covid-19 in the workplace published in the International Journal of Environmental Health and Public Health, researchers concluded that “poor social support and a prolonged working time” had detrimental impacts on employee well-being. Working from home led to extended hours as work-life boundaries became harder to maintain. Lockdowns resulted in social isolation, not to mention reduced access to childcare and other support outlets for parents balancing career and family obligations.
Vaccines becoming available last spring seemed to signal a return to normal, and many companies announced their intentions to bring people back to physical offices and work sites as soon as safely possible. However, the spread of the Delta variant this summer has upended those plans. As a result, most of us are experiencing an unpleasant 2020 déjà vu as we are now back to wearing masks and social distancing.
It’s another blow to our already fragile collective mental health—so how do we cope? How do we keep employees from getting burned out and keep morale high among teams who must continue to collaborate remotely for who knows how much longer?
The answer may be as simple as tapping into the power of positivity.
The Positivity Approach
In a The Upside article by Dan Tomasulo, author of Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression, he outlines an approach to combating negative thoughts and emotions with optimism. His main point: If you can adjust your mindset, you can drastically change the way you feel and how you respond to challenges. This skill becomes especially useful when facing adversity and uncertainty. The benefits are physical as well as mental; research has shown that positive thinking can actually lead to:
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Lower levels of stress
- Better cardiovascular health
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Higher levels of well‑being
- More positive emotions
- Greater resilience and coping skills during difficult times
- Greater productivity
- More compassion
- Greater kindness
- Fewer negative thoughts
- Better sleep
- A longer, happier life
There are many things that we can’t control about the current situation, but with a little effort and intentionality, we can change how we look at things, and, in Tomasulo’s words, shift our focus from “what’s wrong to what’s strong.”