We recently posted an article highlighting the wellness, mental and physical health and well-being problems being experienced as a result of employee’s covid experiences. (If you have yet to read Curing Malady at Work, where we talk about this and also about lost connections and lost values, go to: http://storytellinginbusiness.blogspot.com/2022/10/curing-malady-at-work.html
As Gabor Maté proves, there is nothing 'normal' about the way we are living and the remarkably high level of stress and toxicity that we face every day. (Maté, g. 2022)
There are a growing number of research papers and articles emanating from a number of countries, about the inefficacy of and the adverse effects of covid vaccinations. That is not what this article is about. Instead, in this article we outline the impact on the health and wellness of people emanating from their covid experience as we move into what is being heralded by some as a post-covid period. (This period may turn out to be simply the lull before the next inevitable medical, financial, technological or social pandemic - which will again traumatise millions). Documentation of what people are experiencing is still sparse but deserves our full consideration.
What we can now say with certainty is that people have suffered and continue to suffer. There have been many impacts, potentially serious and lasting in terms of our health and wellness at every level: physical, intellectual emotional, social and spiritual. These traumatic impacts have been both collective and individual.
New Findings of Note
Scientists in Europe and the USA compared levels of the five-factor model of personality traits before and after the coronavirus pandemic, finding that personality itself has been affected by the trauma of covid (with some differences across age groups):
Extraversion (characterised by outgoing sociability, high energy) declined (moved towards introversion)
Openness (characterised by curiousness, insight, imaginativeness) declined
Agreeableness (Prosocial, kind, giving, helpful, accepting) decreased
Conscientiousness (goal-directed, focused) suffered
Neuroticism (self-blaming, tendency to focus on negative emotions) increased
(Bello, C. 2022)
On a ‘whole person’ basis, other research conducted, and our own experiences and observations have been in line with the findings that follow. (See References below).
Interlinked, negative impacts (mainly long-lasting and not short-lived) that are being revealed:
Insomnia, digestive problems, listlessness, curtailed movement and lack of exercise, unexpected sudden ailments of many sorts
Boredom, brain fog, memory loss - ‘pandemic amnesia’, not feeling in control
(Exacerbated for some by longer work hours)
Anxiety, high stress, panic, depression, loneliness, grieving for those who’ve died
Parents worry about their school-going kids: schooling time lost, lowered concentration, new fears and vulnerabilities, teacher’s inability to handle acting out, giving up, low morale
(Often triggered by change, uncertainty and financial stress).
Social isolation is abnormal for humans and can become a self-imposed habit. Many relationships have suffered. A ‘me-first’ attitude has become more prevalent. There is less compassion for the other. ‘Red flag words’ spark conflict. There is a new sense of being vulnerable to harm from others (Young and older experience this). And sometimes a phenomenon of pseudo self-sufficiency. (‘It’s everyone for themselves’)
Attachment-style (attachment-inheritance may be a better word) plays a big role. Where attachment style is one of relational insecurity, the dynamic between needing to have your own space and being able to enjoy being very close to another or others creates problematical behaviours. These may result in major conflict within relationships)
Fear and being wary of others, feeling vulnerable to others and the unknown future. Community and togetherness is impacted.
Attending funerals where there is forced distancing between mourners, or not being able to be with loved ones when they are dying have scarred people. They ask, ‘Why is this being allowed to happen to me?!’
Some also exclaim: ‘The world should for us all be charged with the grandeur of God. Humans should be blessed by the spiritual realities of beauty, love, harmony, contentment. Not weighed down by abuse, totalitarian behaviour by those in charge, not subject to narcissism and a materialistic culture. Why is this happening?’
What has been imposed, and/or allowed with inadequate response, can be described as despicable.
The impacts outlined above have the potential to render people, institutions and organisations dysfunctional if no adequate remedy is forthcoming.
In addition, in a hybrid (at-home and on-site) operating circumstance, where there is already potential for a single organisation culture to come under threat, these ongoing covid impacts may certainly exacerbate culture damage.
We advocate as a first step that leaders of organisations and institutions learn about their specific situation by conducting a quick, illuminating survey in order to find answers and take action. Contact https://culturescan.biz/contact-us/
(If you wish to do a sample survey (which is not as refined as the one that would be done for your organisation but will give you an idea of possible survey content, go to: https://culturescan.biz/wellness-assessment/
Bello, Camille (2022) Scientists believe COVID may have altered our personalities, especially young adults Euronews November, 2022
Chirichella, Caroline (2022) How and Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Might Be Messing with Your Memory Shape
Lebow, Hilary I (2021) and Juby, Bethany, PsyD medically reviewed. How the Pandemic Affected Our relationships PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/health/the-impact-of-the-pandemic-on-relationships#Pandemic-and-relationships:-The-big-picture
Maté, Gabor MD, with Maté, Daniel (2022) The Myth of Normal: trauma, illness and healing in a toxic culture Avery
Nardone, G, and Portelli, C. (2005) Knowing through changing: The evolution of brief strategic therapy. United Kingdom: Crown House.
Pietrabissa, Giada & Simpson, Susan G. (2020) Psychological Consequences of Social Isolation During COVID-19 Outbreak 09 September 2020 Frontiers in Psychology https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02201/full
Rogers, J. P, Chesney, E., Oliver, D., Pollak, T. A., McGuire, P, Fusar-Poli, P, et al. (2020. Psychiatric and neuropsychiatric presentations associated with severe coronavirus infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis with comparison to the COVID-19 pandemic Lancet Psychiatry 7, 611–627. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30203-0