Volume 4, Article 18

Positive Psychology During a Pandemic: REFRAME for Well-Being
Erin M. Lefdahl-Davis, David Stefan, Levi Huffman and Allie Alayan

Citation: Lefdahl-Davis, E. M., Stefan, D., Huffman, L., & Alayan, A. (2020). ‘Positive Psychology During a Pandemic: REFRAME for Well-Being’. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 4, 18, 1-15. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-4-2020/volume-4-article-18/

Processing dates: Submitted: 22 July 2020; Resubmitted: 17 September 2020; Accepted: 12 October 2020; Published 15 December 2020.

Volume 4, Article 18


Background/Aims/Objectives: In this mixed-methods research, we examined several psychology practices for their importance, usefulness, and potential to impact overall well-being during a worldwide pandemic (COVID-19). The acronym REFRAME was employed to illustrate these positive psychology concepts: Resilience, Empathy, Flow, Relationships, Appreciation, Meaning, Embodiment.
Methods/Methodology: A survey method was utilized to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the perceived value of positive psychology concepts and practices in participants’ lives during quarantine. The survey was distributed to students, staff, and faculty of a medium-sized university in the United States. 308 participants completed the survey.
Results: Surprisingly, nearly all participants endorsed these positive psychology practices as a valuable way to REFRAME their pandemic experience. Participants not only ranked positive psychology concepts as “very important,” but also reported that these practices were a part of their daily routine. Using grounded theory methodology, researchers found themes of relationships, gratitude, empathy and service as highly important to participants during the pandemic. Many participants also discussed how technology added to their connections and coping during the period of quarantine and stay-at-home orders as COVID-19 spread.
Discussion: Participants indicated high levels of importance for engaging with all seven positive psychology constructs during the pandemic. While many participants struggled to find place, time, and opportunity to practice Embodiment and Flow during the stay-at-home orders, they still considered these activities valuable.
Conclusions: Using a psychological lens, this research shows that positive psychology encouraged participants in various ways during a worldwide pandemic.

Keywords: positive psychology, pandemic, resilience, coping, PERMA


Dr. Erin Lefdahl-Davis, PhD, HSPP, ACC, is Associate Professor of Graduate Counseling at Indiana Wesleyan University with over 25 years of experience in the fields of Student Development, Higher Education and Counseling Psychology. She is a licensed psychologist (HSPP) in the United States and a certified coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation. She enjoys interdisciplinary collaboration and participates in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, particularly in the areas of positive psychology, theology, neuroscience and sociology. Dr. Davis has studied and participated in service work in several universities around the world, including England, Uganda, Egypt, Australia and Portugal. Her research interests, presentations and publications include topics such as cross-cultural and international psychology, coaching, relationships, sexuality and intimacy and the intersection of psychology and faith. She was a faculty member on the spring 2020 Semester at Sea voyage, which hosted field classes in Japan, Vietnam, Mauritius and South Africa, before ending early due to the pandemic.

Dr. David R. Stefan, Ph.D., LPC, is Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology and a Life Calling Coach at Indiana Wesleyan University, where he directs the BS and MA in Psychology programs. He is also the founder of The Come Alive Collaborative, which provides positive psychology intervention resources and training.

Dr. Levi Huffman is a Life Calling Coach and Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is a Professionally Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Dr. Huffman writes curriculum for the department of Life Calling and Integrative Learning as well as Graduate Counseling while leading humanitarian relief efforts to areas including Swaziland, Sri
Lanka, Nicaragua, and Zambia. He is an Experiential Coach who works with systems via wilderness immersive experiences to inspire team building, conflict resolution, and long-term goal setting. He has nearly 20 years of experience working in Collegiate Administration in areas that include Academic Affairs, Residential Life, Judicial Affairs, Career and Calling, Study Abroad
Curriculum, and Adult Education. His research areas include the long-term impact of student leadership positions post-college, student motivation, and human identity development.

Alexandra J. Alayan (M.A. Wheaton College) is a PhD student in Counseling Psychology at Colorado State University. Her research interests include vocational calling, meaningful work, positive psychology, and the role of religion and spirituality in work.