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UNF researchers study impacts on psychological well-being and coping mechanisms during COVID-19

UNF researchers Drs. Teresa Tuason, professor and clinical director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, and Dominik Güss, presidential professor for the Department of Psychology, along with Lauren Boyd, psychology student, have recently published their study titled “Thriving during COVID-19: Predictors of psychological well-being and ways of coping” in the Public Library of Science journal, Plos One Journal.

To help uncover some of the most important factors that influence psychological well-being (PWB) and how to cope well during these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNF researchers asked 938 participants throughout the United States to complete their online survey.

The team focused on three groups of variables: biological, psychological, and social and economic variables to begin the study. Findings showed that all three groups of variables together influence our happiness and well-being during this pandemic. The variables that had the most influence on our well-being were physical health (not gender or age), spirituality, emotional loneliness, social loneliness, sense of agency, and job security (not income, neighborhood safety or hours spent on social media).

The researchers also compared the coping strategies of the happiest third of participants with those of the unhappiest third. The happiest third showed more intentional coping, listing examples such as, “having more time with family or people I live with,” “having more time for myself to rest/reflect/re-energize/slow down,” “getting projects done around the house,” “the outdoors, nature, the environment,” and “having the ability to work from home – I know a lot of people can’t.” The unhappiest third used passive coping strategies, responses including, “more time playing video games,” “more time watching TV shows/movies,” “Having fewer responsibilities,” and “I enjoy nothing”.

The research conducted shows that staying psychologically well during the COVID-19 pandemic brings us back to the essentials by taking care of our physical and spiritual health, being emotionally and socially connected to significant people in our lives and retaining employment status when able. Coping skills that are creative, proactive and allow us to take initiative and control over what we can opens us to wellness and helps provide opportunities to thrive during the pandemic.


Read the full paper online via the PLoS ONE online journal.