Michael Poulin, an assistant professor of psychology and an expert on human response to stress and adversity at the University at Buffalo, says being trapped with 32 others 2,296 feet beneath the earth for 69 days in 90-degree heat was harrowing, mentally stressful and for some a medical emergency.
However, the way the miners coped is instructive on how the rest of us can and should cope with our own crises and stresses, and, in fact, mirrors the advice psychologists give people whose lives have been disrupted, Poulin says.
"So many of us face stresses like illness, injury, economic crisis, loss of employment, loss of home, which in turn mean a loss of our sense of predictability and control and a loss of the everyday routines that give our lives meaning," Poulin said in a statement.
"They set out to create new routines, sleeping in shifts, and devising a schedule for doing what needed to be done, such as moving rock and earth displaced by the drilling. They adopted new roles one took on the role of spiritual adviser, another was the medic, and so on."
The miners could have just sat there, marking notches on the wall, but even in terrifying circumstances, they figured out what needed to be done, who should do what and when, Poulin says.