What COVID has taught us about sharing our feelings – and why is now the time to share again?

What COVID has taught us about sharing our feelings – and why is now the time to share again?

Unsplash/Kate Trifo, BY CC

Although only two and a half years ago, the first months of the COVID pandemic and the ensuing deadlocks seems like a distant past.

We have forgotten – perhaps on purpose – our memories of travel restrictions within a 5km radius, long queues at test points, forced homework, distance learning, and border closures. It’s like we don’t talk about it anymore.

yet, for fresh wave The number of cases is here, new variants continue to emerge and we find ourselves in an ever-changing «new normal».

What have we learned from our emotional responses and the way we share them in the first waves of the pandemic? And should this shape how we look into the future?

it came true

The pandemic has become touchingly emotional.

We missed our usual patterns of social interaction. Many of us were sick and/or supporting others who were sick. These stressors were both acute and ongoing.

It’s no surprise that most Australians report reduced mental well-being since the beginning of the pandemic.

Evidence of the emotional impact of the pandemic is evident in data from online social networks. Australia saw a 28% increase Twitter posts 15% increase in posts expressing concern and sadness over pre-COVID periods in the first five weeks of the 2020 outbreak.

These broad shifts in emotional tenor were accompanied by «bursts» of emotional activity. For example, a national day of mourning for COVID victims in China virgo in the language of social media that reflects sadness.

We were pretty resilient too. The tightened restrictions and the acute effects of the pandemic that drove them were met with initial stress. But most people showed hedonic adaptation – or a return to basic emotional levels over time.

high-rise windows with a worker in protective gear
A worker with full PPE in a residential tower in North Melbourne in mid-2020. Unsplash / Chris McLay, BY CC

Sharing all the feelings

We talked about our experiences with COVID becoming a part of our daily lives, even if we couldn’t do it ourselves, as people often do in emotional situations.

When lockdowns and social distancing restrictions happened, we had to get creative. We called our friends and loved ones and also attended Zoom parties and online game nights. We posted on social media and it became digital devices. integral to maintain contact.

Talking about our experiences and emotions – something researchers say social sharing of emotions – it probably helped a lot.

Belgian researcher Bernard Rimé, social psychology of emotionsargues that we often feel compelled to discuss our emotional experiences. Friends, spouses and partners are the main targets of sharing among adults. More intense emotions are shared more often and faster. We also tend to share important experiences over and over. days, weeks and months after an event.

So even now, years after the pandemic, sharing our feelings has value.

In general, sharing our emotional experiences range of benefits. When we share positive experiences, reenact the eventto reap the benefits in the future. Sharing inherently involves naming our feelings – this is the process affect the labelingIn particular, it initiates processes that bring our negative emotional states back to the baseline.

But what really matters is the social nature of social sharing – and how does someone react key.

For example, relationships develop when the interlocutors react enthusiastically to something. positive emotion sharing. Moreover, we feel better, closer to the goal, and less alone when others respond empathetically and help us reframe. negative events.

It’s worth noting one caveat: Sharing is less helpful if it focuses heavily on negative emotions and problems. thinking togetheras it is said, it brings people together, but it does not provide emotional healing.

A ‘wash of emotions’

It is clear that we can gain a lot from sharing our personal emotional experiences. However, some emotional events affect an entire group, community, or indeed the entire world. The COVID pandemic is the best example of this.

collective feelings combines responses to an event among members of a group. Discussing collective events and media coverage serves to create a social narrative and collective memory of what happened, ultimately providing a sense of social belonging and shared beliefs within the group.

This process has been accelerated in terms of both speed and access. online social networks.

Analysis over time Twitter data shows that people who post frequently online about the pandemic begin to express less negativity later on, reinforcing the idea that collective emotional response facilitates personal emotional healing.

While the obligations are eased, some people still stay at home to protect their health. Unsplash, BY CC

face the future

What can we learn from all this about facing an ongoing epidemic and other large-scale stressors? Share how you feel and how you feel, both good and bad – especially with those close to you. Chances are you and the people you share with will benefit from it.

Not on social media? No problem. Social sharing of feelings and the emergence of collective feelings are certainly face to face communication. Worried about the lack of face-to-face opportunities? Also no problem. computer-mediated and face-to-face communication are quite similar in how much emotions are shared. Find the environment that works for you.

Go beyond providing comfort, validation, and understanding if others are sharing with you—especially negative experiences. aim to help them cognitively process the event thinking about it differently. And of course, avoid thinking together.

Sharing our emotions and processing our collective emotions can be especially helpful as we step into an uncertain future.


Lisa A. Williams receives funding from the Australian government (Australian Research Council; Department of Industry, Science and Resources).

/ Courtesy of chat. This material from the source organization/authors may be of a particular time, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed belong to the author(s).

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