What’s on : Lectures
Dealing with hardship: stress and resilience in the COVID19 era
Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, University of York
The talk will focus on how resilience can play a role in dealing with stress. Based upon an analysis of the findings of a survey amongst University of York staff and students, that had to deal with the sudden COVID19 outbreak and altered work and personal arrangements because of that, it will explain what factors play a role in vulnerability and resilience. It will set out the evidence that cultural background, green environment and social isolation have powerful psychological effects and will illustrate how people can be resilient.
The following paper was suggested as a follow up to the lecture:
Stress takes different forms: it can be benign and lead to rewarding outcomes; but it is often the opposite. Excessive cortisol response produced by the adrenal glands leads to psychological disorders including fatigue, demoralisation, and depression, but, because it affects the immune system, also physical illness. If the stress trigger is prolonged so is the psychological distress, and chronic fatigue, absenteeism, or burn-out may result.
Vulnerabilities to stress include being female, and a workplace where someone has no agency, is overloaded, or unable to make choices. Resilience to stress may be a personal attribute, but is aided by stability in relationships, self-esteem, exercise, rewarding work, and the ability to choose.
A small survey of self-selected York University staff and students under Covid lockdown conditions suggested that those most resilient were students – younger, who had gone home to relations, to green spaces, a stable environment. Those least resilient were older, mainly staff, often looking after young children, with no access to green spaces and socially isolated. Chinese students’ responses appeared to suggest enormous resilience but it seemed likely that their cultural background might have led them to deny any psychological failings and behave like presentees – i.e. to continue to work despite stress.