Surviving the COVID-19 pandemic: An examination of adaptive coping strategies

Heliyon. 2022 May;8(5):e09508. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09508. Epub 2022 May 20.


The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant in Australia. The aim of this study was to investigate coping strategies that individuals have adopted to assist them through this stressful period. Survey data collected in September and December 2020 as part of a larger study (the COLLATE project) were analysed. The number of adaptive coping strategies endorsed by respondents had a significant negative relationship with depression and a significant positive relationship with resilience. Females tended to use more of these strategies than men, as did people who said their mental health had improved rather than deteriorated because of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by government. Specific adaptive coping strategies differed for those with and without a mental illness. People with a mental illness were more likely to seek professional and online help, while people without a mental illness were more likely to use self-help. Focusing on what one is grateful for and keeping oneself productively occupied ("using the time to do things around the house") were the most beneficial coping strategies in terms of alleviating depression, anxiety and stress. Public health messaging promoting adaptive coping strategies may be useful in bolstering the mental health of individuals during lockdown periods. In particular, the promotion of coping flexibility should be recommended rather than the frequent use of the same coping strategies.

Keywords: Adaptive coping; COVID-19 lockdown; Mental illness; Resilience.