Coping in the time of COVID-19-Lessons from China

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With over half the world practicing shelter in place, many of us are sharing a singular experience. Families are together; others are more isolated as they practice social distancing alone. China is about four months ahead of the rest of us in terms of their journey through COVID-19. Scientists have been sharing information globally to provide insights into what might unfold in the weeks and months ahead.

A new paper by Stephen Zhang from the University of Adelaide, Australia, looks at health, stress, and coping in working adults in China after one month of being in lockdown. The paper, published in Psychiatry Research, focuses on 369 working adults in over 60 cities across China- all with varying degrees of COVID-19 infection. The study includes 38% of people working from home, 27% working in their offices, and the remaining 25% no longer working. Participants were surveyed on their health and wellbeing one month into their lockdown.

Findings show, not surprisingly, those who stopped working reported lower levels of health and wellbeing and higher levels of distress. Those living in cities with high infection rates also reported lower levels of life satisfaction; this was also tied to their health status. Those who remained healthy in areas of high infection reported more distress, likely in part due to exercise routine disruption. Cities with lower rates of disease, and those individuals who would typically feel healthy and active were also more challenged by the restrictions in China.

The paper points to the need for policy positions to support cities with lower infection rates to provide resources for healthy people to shelter in place for the greater good collectively. Addressing the mental health aspects of restrictions will be as crucial for physical distancing necessary to flatten the curve. Special attention to those who lost their jobs with the provision of emotional, social, and financial support in these unprecedented times is warranted. Those who have very active lifestyles will also feel the restrictions more keenly than those who exercised less than thirty minutes a day. The uncertainly we all feel is universal; the solutions can also be collective. We can and will get to the other side of this. Be well.

Thanks for reading – Trina
(Opinions are my own)




Stephen X. Zhang, Yifei Wang, Andreas Rauch, Feng Wei,
Unprecedented disruption of lives and work: Health, distress and life satisfaction of working adults in China one month into the COVID-19 outbreak, Psychiatry Research, Volume 288, 2020, 112958, ISSN 0165-1781,

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