We are being exposed to events that create anxiety, stress and even fear. Yet, in the process, we begin to emphatise with those affected and imagine how we might cope in similar situations. Reaching out to people who are affected, either emotionally, physically or financially, can help us re-establish feelings of power and control.
As we see others behaving in the same “pro-social” way, we are reminded we live in a civilised society. This provides clarity and confidence and reduces our stress levels.
Engaging with others in a pro-social manner protects us from isolation and the idea that no one understands our pain. People do better physically, emotionally and psychologically when they connect with others in times of suffering..
Humans are social beings, designed to live cooperatively. Helping one another in a crisis is both a practical way to collect and share resources, and important for our own well-being.
Responding as a community
The social capital generated though formal and informal networks can be used to raise awareness about causes and vulnerable members of society, and to mobilise community action. Collective action then reinforces a sense of common purpose and safety in numbers.
In the case of COVID-19, a well-connected and informed community can respond more effectively. This will enable us not only to survive the crisis as individuals, but also to support community recovery in the longer term.