Authors: UC Davis Health
There is research that defines the stages of stress on communities from disasters. If it makes anyone feel better, as a society, we are right on target.
Early during or right after a disaster, communities tend to pull together. People support each other and create a sense of community bonding, Hermanson said. Think back to the first weeks of the stay-at-home orders when everyone in neighborhoods waved to everyone else.
“Eventually, that heroic spirit wears thin as the difficulties and stress build up. That’s when we hit the disillusionment phase,” Hermanson said. “We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. We ask, ‘What are they doing to fix this? How long will this last?’”
That’s about where we stand now as a society. “Many people are exhausted by it all,” she said. “Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than stay home or be careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science.”
This phase could last a while, in part because the disaster – the COVID-19 pandemic – is still going on.
“Research shows that disillusionment can last up to a year from the start of the disaster,” she said. “And this pandemic is like nothing we’ve experienced before, and it’s not over yet.”
How to cope
“We can help ourselves,” Hermanson said. “We’ve heard this before, but it’s true: It’s time to develop coping skills.” Those include: