When we are in the middle of crisis we tend to go into survival mode and only focus on how to get through and survive. This is how we work with dead-lines, conflicts and when business is failing. We kick into hyper-focus mode, which we tend to think of as a good thing however we push through with anxiety, stress and burnout as the price we pay. It’s in our nature to cope with crisis in this way and it’s one of our great human advantages that we can do so, short-term. However in a disruptive world with new realities staring us in the face, it’s time to rethink our relationship with self, work, family, community and how we live our lives in general.
Disruption comes in many packages and we often don’t talk about just how disruptive disease is. For example when cancer threatens our health and our lives, we go through many emotions from fear to anger to sadness to anxiety, but we often don’t talk about it. We are expected to have the attitude that “we just have to get through this and put on a good face and a brave smile” and we tend to feel even more alone.
Are we alone in here?
What I want to pause on right now is that cancer hits far more people every year (17 million in 2018) than the Coronavirus is estimated to affect and yet COVID-19 is stopping the world. Sure cancer is not contagious, but stress, fear and anxiety is. With cancer we don’t know if we are going to survive and we bank on hope, doctors and credit cards as we spend often close to a year in treatment and recovery, with financial stress added to the situation.
We humans are resilient, but we are not very good at working with fear and we are even less good at talking about our emotions. At least that is something COVID-19 is bringing out in us. We talk about our fears, publicly. That is a great thing, kind of, because it also spreads the fear and the panic. There is a difference between living in fear and getting stuck in it, and noticing, observing and engaging with the fear by talking about it and sharing our feelings.
We want our lives back, the lives that seem comfortable and safe, and yet safety, as we have seen now, is a complete illusion.
I question what we want back. Is that we are not scared and we don’t want to feel isolated and alone even though many people live that way every day already? Or is it the consumer based lifestyle that we have gotten used to, because we have access to anything we want, anytime, and we don’t even pause to think if it matters.
When an outbreak like the Coronavirus threatens our health, our livelihood and our lives we have to completely rethink not just how we get through the danger and escape the threat, we also have to rethink how we connect with other people and make a living.
What we lost in the Coronavirus crisis
The Coronavirus is not just something we get through and then go back to our normal lives. It is not going to be normal or the way it was anytime soon, probably never, because we cannot unsee and unfeel what we went through. And to some extend that’s probably a good thing. Of course not for the people, who have suffered loss of loved ones, jobs or lost the business, that they have worked hard to start up or maintain for year. These kinds of losses are not easy to recover from and I’m certainly aware that fear is also valid right now. We don’t know enough about the virus and we don’t have proper treatment. The best we can do is self-care for prevention and boost our immune system to withstand and lower our risk and impact. (more about that in my next blog-post)
There are other things we lost in the Coronavirus pandemic. We lost our freedom to go where ever we wanted to go. We lost our freedom to meet up, go to events and celebrate each other. We lost our work community and our social community. We lost sharing time with friends and family, at least if they were not already in our household. And those of us who live alone lost access to human touch. No hugs when meeting in the street or hand-shaking even for professional meetings.
What can we find amidst this crisis?
We are being forced to stay indoors, spend more time with ourselves and family, we have to rethink our eating habits and how we get exercise. We need new tech-boundaries so we don’t work all the time, if we can work from home and we have to integrate new rules for work/life quality.
However some don’t have the opportunity to work from home. Some cannot even make a living right now the way they used to. Some have small businesses that no longer have clients or restaurants that no longer serve their guests. How will they move forward? They are the ones losing the most and I hope we can find ways to support those who need it the most. I’m not suggesting can all find a silver lining, but I am asking that we look for how this will change all of us. What can we find in the chaos and the pain that we can learn from? Personally, professionally, as humans and as a community. Only then will we transform.
The loss of community and closeness is starting to become real for us. We see how Italy and Spain are singing from their balconies to stay in touch and we see virtual meet-ups and yoga classes that help people feel connected. It’s great. We are learning how to use the tools we have to move with the situation, rather than being stuck in it.
Everyone is affected, even if they are not COVID-19 positive and I hope something will come out of it on a more human scale, not just another vaccine.
What can we change?
So instead of focusing on what we cannot change, which is the situation we are in, instead ask what we can do with this disruption to our lives. How might this change you? How can you spend this time listening within yourself? Deeply. Not to the fear, but to what matters to you and why.
There are many questions to ask right now, questions we cannot answer yet. But we can start creating a new relationship with the way we live our lives from the inside out, so that we can come out of survival mode and start looking for how we can get through this in a healthy way.
How can this change the way we work? How can it change the way we respect, care and connect in the future? How can it change your appreciation for daily human connection and care more in the future? How can you be more present to others, when you meet face to face? How can you listen more and ask more questions, so that you can engage fully? How can you share what you think and feel, trusting that you are ok to have emotions, fears and feelings? How can it change the way you choose to spend time away from work in the future? How can it change your digital habits? Keep asking yourself questions from a curious perspective that will allow you to learn how to go from disruption to transformation.
Living more virtually in a human way
Being more virtual makes us starve for human connection. Constantly being on social media and checking the news for the latest update burns us out and we ask for more space to just breathe. Can we learn to incorporate more work-life quality in the future? Can we be more flexible about working remotely and stay productive, because we are nourished not because we are recovering from the stress of the office when we do?
How can this crisis teach us about self-care and the importance of living in a healthy body, creating a healthy work environment and boundaries that give us more work/life quality in the future?
Learn to pause for moments at a time. Look for the signs, notice the little things that are trying to show you that you can rethink your self-care.
Rethink how important your health is to you as the foundation for reaching your goals and living a life you love. If we all had super health would we be as scared right now? Would the impact on our economy be as severe? We are scared, because we don’t know what’s ahead and how it will impact us, but we do have a choice in that too.
It’s time to come home. Not just working from and staying home, but being at home inside our very own bodies and learn what we need so that we can not just survive every day, but that we thrive too.
Start by asking yourself – How are you doing today? What do you need to that you can… ? Ask someone else – How are you doing today? What do you need…?
If you need support or want to discuss coaching please email me.
Photo by Jan Tinneberg via Unsplash