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Research shows that after trauma, not only can we bounce back—we can bounce forward. This is called post-traumatic growth, and it's more common than we might think.
The concept of post-traumatic stress is a familiar topic for many, but far fewer are aware of the possibility for post-traumatic growth. COVID-19 left many of us navigating a new normal. Millions of people around the world have experienced a significant loss of someone or something important to them. Many people are feeling anxious, experiencing burnout, or grieving a sense of normalcy. But research shows that stress and growth can co-exist—and in fact, we can grow from some of the most difficult experiences of our lives. In this moment, we might experience post-traumatic growth.
Even as we’ve struggled, we’ve grown. Throughout the pandemic, communities and individuals have mobilized to support each other. Businesses have adapted nearly overnight. Caregivers have become remote-learning teachers. Community fridges and other forms of mutual aid have supported some of the most vulnerable.
As we've endured the pandemic together, we've experienced post-traumatic growth collectively. We're opening up about our struggles with new people and with a new sense of honesty. We're placing more value on our relationships with those we've been separated from. These shifts have gone beyond individuals and communities—they suggest the possibility of a more empathetic culture.
Post-traumatic growth is often subtle, and it can be hard to see, especially when you're suffering. But understanding what it looks like can help us embrace it and perhaps even continue to grow.
Bouncing forward looks different for everyone, but it often takes one of five main forms. Read on to learn what they are and explore practical tips to embrace post-traumatic growth.Read an op-ed on “bouncing forward”