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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.
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. COVID-19 is still very much a real threat to communities across the world, and many of us might still be in the thick of it. But understanding how post traumatic growth might show up for you can help you embrace it as you 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 more in our USA Today op-ed