Coping with COVID-19: Dialectical thinking

Stones in sand
As we continue to cope with COVID-19, it’s easy to fall into a rut with your perspective. In a crisis, it’s natural to feel drawn toward a concrete, dichotomous, all-or-nothing thought process.

While these thoughts may bring a sense of certainty in an otherwise shifting world, they have the tendency to paint you into a corner. An overall pessimistic stance may offer the opportunity to “plan for the worst,” but it also tends to lead to an overall feeling of anxiety and despair.

Conversely, adopting a fiercely optimistic attitude may help you remain hopeful, but it can be invalidating to others’ fears and lead you to be more cavalier with your behavior.

The Ohio State University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health’s Stress Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program is here to offer a healthy middle ground in the form of DIALECTICAL THINKING.

Dialectical thinking is a useful way to look at the world because it:

  • Teaches us that there is more than one way to see a situation
  • Helps us see more than one way to solve a problem
  • Considers how we all have different perspectives and unique qualities
  • Points out that the only constant in the universe is change
  • Allows two things that seem like opposites to both be true
  • Permits us to move from one end of the continuum to the other and back again, depending on our goals
  • Promotes balance instead of perfection
If you’re interested in becoming more dialectical with your thought process, here’s a great way to start:
  • Join two statements that may seem to be opposites, using the word “and.”
    • For example, “I’m scared about this, AND I trust that the precautions everybody is taking now will help us contain this pandemic so that the health care system can adequately respond.”

And now, for your daily dose of intentional distraction to help you de-stress (this one’s an English bulldog being absolutely amazing on an agility course):