Scarcity is a running theme of the coronavirus pandemic: the lack of enough ventilators, a shortage of skilled doctors where they are needed most, supermarket shelves bare. The infamous run on toilet paper, of all things. Even the national stockpile of ventilators and personal protective equipment is running low.
As much as it might seem irrational, it also makes perfect sense. The first job of the nervous system is safety. When we perceive lack, we go into hoarding mode, to ensure that we will have enough. The more the news dominates with headlines of lack, the more people feel compelled to stockpile.
Personally, I wouldn’t even have space to store all that toilet paper. I wonder where people keep it.
My 94-year old grandmother laughed about the toilet paper thing. She is a Holocaust survivor. She she lived without toilet paper for 5 years during the war.
What do we really need to get through this?
All evidence suggests that we’re in for many more weeks of self-isolation measures and staying at home.
Here are 5 things that I’m stockpiling to get me through:
Some days are simply not that productive. I don’t care if you’re the most “productive” and efficient person in the world. Just like the coronavirus itself, none of us are immune to the effects of what’s going on. There is tremendous uncertainty in the foundational areas of life: health, finances, home. We are all facing fears and grief. On top of that, for many people working from home is a new experience. Even for those used to working from home, the presence of kids and partners who are now home changes the dynamic.
The uncertainty and looming energy of death can impact sleep cycles, focus, attention, and energy.
I am trying to cultivate more self-compassion, especially when I “fall of track” or get distracted, or just space out.
When I find myself wanting to snap at someone, I remind myself that everyone deals with stressors in different ways, and we don’t always know what someone is dealing with.
Things are moving more slowly. A trip to the supermarket takes longer when you need to wait in a line to get into the store. With many people working from home, internet is slower. (Personally, I don’t even have internet right now, slow or fast.) Amazon is taking longer to deliver, even for Amazon Prime orders.
Plans have been disrupted, requiring revision of strategies.
A little bit of patience goes a long way to dealing with all of this.
It’s hard to look at some of what’s going on and not think, if only the people in charge had done X, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation. We can look backward and point fingers and wonder how we got here, but it doesn’t change where we are.
It is what it is. The faster we can accept where we are, and the uncertainty around this situation, the easier it is to look within and see what we can do to change ourselves. This is what’s being asked of us.
Before we can change anything we must accept it for what it is.
Even in the midsts of darkness, death, and despair, there light. I already have a daily gratitude ritual, but these days I’m adding more gratitude check-ins with myself, and doing my best to express my gratitude to others. A simple “thank you for coming to work” goes a long way at the supermarket check-out.
I spend a few moments each day reflecting in gratitude for the heroic doctors, nurses, and other first responders who are caring for the sick. The truck drivers, supermarket employees, transit workers, postal carriers, delivery people, and others who are keeping the world moving. The technology that allows us to connect.
Not to mention the basics: my life, my eyesight, my hearing, my breath. All the “little things” you may not think about. It’s times like this that we realize: the little things are the big things.
There is so much to be grateful for.
Love is a great healer. It also catalyzes compassion and kindness. Starting with self-love, because we cannot give to others what we don’t give to ourselves.
When I start to spin out or feel overwhelmed, I might ask myself, what’s the most loving thing I can do right now? Sometimes the answer is to get into child’s pose on the floor for 20 minutes. And that’s ok. (There’s the acceptance and compassion.)
Love helps us cultivate connection even when we are physically distanced from each other.
The more I love myself, the more love I can give to others. And that which I give out returns to me multiplied.
An Unlimited and Growing Supply
These stockpiles don’t run out. In fact, the more we cultivate and use them, the more we have. The supply is endless. Instead of lack, suddenly I’m in abundance. I have all the resources I need to get me through the long journey of this self-quarantine.
And the best part is that I don’t need any extra storage space.