Managing Stress During COVID-19: The Dark Side of Personality

Gordon Curphy, PhD and Dianne Nilsen, PhD Curphy Leadership Solutions

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Crises tend to bring out both the best and the worst in people. On one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has people picking up groceries for their elderly neighbors, sewing masks, and sending hand sanitizers to those in need. At the same time, others are hoarding toilet paper, spreading conspiracy theories on social media, and failing to follow health directives from authorities.

Hardly anyone is going through their normal routines of getting ready for work, commuting to the office, spending the day with colleagues, returning home, and enjoying evenings with family and friends. People are struggling with how to effectively work from home while simultaneously being their children’s primary education and day care provider. Health care workers and others deemed essential are working longer hours than ever before, whereas those in the restaurant, bar, entertainment, fitness, hospitality, airline, and cruise industries sit idle.  Consultants and gig economy workers have seen most sources of income dry up, and those still employed have no idea whether their companies will be in business next year. The disruptions to our daily routine, uncertainty about finances, concerns about becoming infected or losing loved ones, and isolation are creating unprecedented levels of stress. No one is going to be at their best under these circumstances; the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for our dark sides to emerge.

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