How to Stay Mentally Strong Through the
Pandemic and Help Others Do the Same
During this pandemic, have you
ever looked at the people you love
– from your children to your
partner to your parents to your brothers and
About the Author
sisters – and thought to yourself, “If only there
was a way to help them mentally, emotionally and
psychologically stay strong through this scary
Have you ever thought to yourself, “If only I
could find that way for myself?”
And do you ever feel like you are living in a
completely uncertain world and even when you’re
holding it together, you worry that the next upsetting
experience could throw you into a tailspin?
In fact, if you don’t ever feel that way, LATINA
Style, would be interested in hearing from you, and
how you do it.
In our recent book, Why Cope When You Can
Heal? my co-author, Diana Hendel, and I have
offered such a way. Although the subtitle, How
Healthcare Heroes of Covid-19 can Recover from
PTSD, might seem as if it will not help others such
as you. In fact, it will help anyone who is feeling
traumatized by the pandemic.
Before we get into that, it might be helpful to
explain what the difference between stress and
trauma is. Stress and trauma are both caused by
events in your life that are way beyond what you’re
used to dealing with. With stress you can still
function and move towards your goals and get
done what needs to get done, even if it’s with
difficulty. However, when those events are too
extreme, and you go from stress to distress, you
stop focusing on goals and stop functioning and
instead focus on relieving the distress in any
way possible. And those ways are frequently
unconstructive and include drinking excessively,
doing drugs, eating too much, yelling at others or
becoming sullen and withdrawn. Stress and
distress can happen like that to anyone. In fact,
they happen to nearly everyone, but they are
usually short lived.
When however, stress and distress don’t come
and go and when instead they are continuous, they
can cross over and more permanently interfere or
in the most extreme case cause you to not be able
to function. It’s at that point that stress has crossed
over into trauma.
In our book one of the ways we help people
prevent that from happening is through a Distress
Relief Exercise and urge them to keep a Journal
which will help them turn the steps into a habit and
something they can teach others.
Distress Relief Exercise and Journal
1. Buy yourself a small journal that you
can carry around with you. Treat yourself to a nice
one, because this is going to become a very
2. If possible, think of a person, living or
dead, who cares or cared about you, believes or
believed in you, has confidence or had confidence
in you. If you don’t have such a person, think of a
hero who might be in the public domain such a
star athlete or singer. If possible, find a picture of
that person, print it up and paste in onto the inside
of the cover.
3. On the page facing that picture, write
down the following (because you’re going to
imagine them asking you them)
I. Date/Time – “Write down the date/time
right after something upsetting happened (or as
soon afterwards that is possible)”
II. “What just happened?” – Write down
in 1 -2 sentences what event occurred that has
III. “What did you think when it
IV. “What did it cause you to feel when it
V. “What does it make you want to do?” –
This is the most important step to put into words,
because it is usually an impulse that if you act upon
it, will usually make matters worse. Putting it into
words lessens the chances you’ll act on it.
VI. “Take three deep and slow breaths and
VII. “What would be a better thing to do?”
VIII. “Why that?” – This step will help you
develop insight that can help in the future
4. Pause and ask yourself how you feel.
In most cases, you should not only feel better, but
you’ll also have a course of action to follow to help
you feel even better.
Why and how did this work?
By going through this process, you’ve
essentially talked and walked (or been talked
through) your way through upset, past a potentially
destructive impulse and landed in an action you
can take that may help you feel better and move
towards a solution.
Why us e a person to inspire you?
When you imagine a person walking and
talking you through the steps, there is a good
chance that you’ll also feel a deep wave of
appreciation and gratitude towards that person. If
they’ve died, you may even miss them.
And then is when you’ll discover this interest
You can’t be upset or angry and appreciative
and grateful at the same moment in time.
By Mark Goulston
Want to comment or have any
questions on this article? Email
us at firstname.lastname@example.org
42 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle V ol. 26, No. 6, 2020