Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Self-Compassion as a Protective Factor against COVID-19 Stressors and Psychological Distress in Emerging Adults: A Literature Review and Study Proposal

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Abigail Heller

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a modern stressor for individuals of all ages, especially emerging/young adults. Since the onset of the pandemic, emerging adults have experienced an increase in adverse health outcomes, including psychological distress (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2021), which consists of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress (Marsh et al., 2017). Self-compassion, comprised of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness, offers a unique way to help individuals process and cope with stressors that stem from daily life and times of distress such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous research demonstrates that the relationship between stressors and negative health outcomes is weaker for emerging adults with higher self-compassion (Terry & Leary, 2011). This literature review is an investigation of sources examining the relationship between COVID-19-related stressors and psychological distress in emerging adults, as well as self-compassion as a moderator of these relationships. This review is in preparation for later acquisition of data that will focus on the relationships mentioned above in emerging adult online college students. Emerging adults will answer questions about depression and anxiety symptoms, perceived stress, COVID-19-related stressors, and self-compassion. Using moderated regression, self-compassion is predicted to moderate the relationship between COVID-19-related stressors and psychological distress. The results of this literature review and subsequent study will indicate if self-compassion is a meaningful practice emerging adults can utilize to lessen the impact of psychological distress related to COVID-19-related stressors and/or similar times of hardship.

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