Stay optimistic. Rely on others. Keep informed but don’t go overboard reading all the headlines.

Those are among a list of tips and other advice offered by Teachers College’s George Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology, in a Q and A recently posted by the Association of Psychological Sciences (APS).

George Bonanno

CRISIS MANAGER Bonanno has found a high level of resilience among survivors of 9/11, returning military veterans and even people hospitalized with paralyzing injuries. (Photo: TC Archives)

“We can cope with this,” asserts Bonanno, a pioneering researcher in the field of bereavement and trauma who also serves as director of both TC’s Resilience Center for Veterans & Families and the College’s Loss, Trauma and Emotion Lab. “My research — and the research of others — has shown repeatedly that the majority of humans cope well and are resilient to just about any adversity.”

We can cope with this. My research -- and the research of others -- has shown repeatedly that the majority of humans cope well and are resilient to just about any adversity.

—George Bonanno

While emphasizing the need for “keeping spirits up and minimizing depression, worry, and anxiety,” Bonanno is also equally clear about the importance of not going it alone.

“Resilience to stress can be part of a person’s intrinsic nature, but it can also come from external factors, including support groups and social resources,” he says.

In 2019, Bonanno — the author of the widely hailed book The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss (Basic Books 2009) — received APS’s prestigious James McKeen Cattell Award, which recognizes a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the area of applied psychological research addressing a critical problem in society at large. With doctoral student Meaghan Mobbs, he also has demonstrated that returning military veterans are far more likely to struggle with the “transition stress” of returning to civilian society than with post-traumatic stress disorder.

[Read a profile of Bonanno that appeared in TC Today magazine in 2011. Read a story on transition stress among military veterans. Visit TC’s Come Together, Right Now…Virtually website for news about TC-sponsored readings, lectures, performances and other online programming to boost your spirits.]