The Role of Emotion Regulation in Mental Health during the COVID-19 Outbreak: A 10-Wave Longitudinal Study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The COVID-19 pandemic elicited a lot of concerns among citizens, thereby potentially compromising their well-being. This study sought to examine the role of individuals' emotion regulation styles (i.e., emotional dysregulation, emotional suppression, and emotional integration) in handling these concerns and their experiences of well-being (i.e., satisfaction with life and sleep quality) and ill-being (i.e., anxiety and depressive symptoms). The study had a unique 10-wave longitudinal design (N = 986; Mage = 41.28; 76% female) and was conducted during the outbreak of the pandemic in March–May 2020. Multilevel analyses showed, first, that weekly variation in COVID-19 related concerns related negatively to weekly variation in well-being and positively to weekly variation in ill-being. Second, at the between-person level, emotional dysregulation and suppression related positively to between-person vulnerability in ill-being and lower well-being (across all waves). Third, between-person differences in emotional dysregulation amplified the strength of the within-person association between concerns and depressive complaints and lowered life satisfaction. Unexpectedly, integrative emotion regulation amplified the strength of the within-person association between concerns and anxiety. The discussion focuses on the critical role of emotion regulation in handling the uncertainty elicited by the pandemic and provides directions for further research.