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COVID-19 AND STRESS: April 2020 - Volume 1, Issue 1

By Dr. Ryan Niemiec

A one-minute read for practitioners, researchers, and educators to stay informed on the science & practice of character strengths.


Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a young man shared this with me a couple days ago: “I walked into the grocery store. The shelves were bare. The shoppers were wide-eyed and unkempt. The employees were slouched, looking downward, and exhausted. I went up to one of the clerks. Keeping a 6-foot distance, I told her how grateful I was that she was there contributing to our community. I pointed out her strength of bravery in that working at this store at this time of crisis was facing a lot of adversity and also helping a whole lot of people. She was touching many lives in a positive way. The employee looked up and began beaming. The color in her face returned, her posture lifted, and soon she was seeing how she could help other customers.”

How might you use one of your character strengths right now?


New research from Stanford University shows that a “stress-is-enhancing” mindset brought forth increases in positive emotions, more flexibility in thinking, and helped people to see the positive/good. This was in contrast with seeing stress through a mindset of “stress-is-debilitating.”

How to apply this research: Pause to think about your current stress levels. View your stress as having benefits such as a chance to use your character strengths in new ways.


Every other month Dr. Ryan Niemiec, VIA's Education Director, sends a newsletter to connect with researchers, strengths practitioners and educators from around the world. He offers things such as a character strengths research finding, a practical nugget, and/or a character strengths story or dialogue he's found inspiring. His hope is that it will prime your day and week with character strengths. Also, let it serve as a reminder that you can reach out at anytime to share your study, your strength applications, and your latest innovations! This article captures a past newsletter. To receive newsletters in real-time, click to subscribe



Crum, A., Akinola, M., Martin, A., & Fath, S. (2017). The role of stress mindset in shaping cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses to challenging and threatening stress. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping. DOI: