Health is wealth.
It may be a cliché but it’s true.
I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t have your health you have nothing. A lot of people are learning that right now.
Health, wealth, home, and relationships are the four pillars that comprise our foundation. Everything else rests on these. Instability in any one means we can’t maximize our ability, or our potential.
The nervous system wants to know it is safe. If it senses danger it goes into survival mode. Our physical energy goes to shoring up any pillars of the weak foundation. This is why when you’re sick you can’t think straight. It’s why when you’re in a fight with your best friend or your partner you’re completely unfocused. It’s why homeless people struggle to get jobs.
We are built for survival first. Food. Money. Shelter. Water. Connection.
If any one of the four pillars is unstable our productivity suffers. We can’t maximize our potential. The coronavirus is taking a sledgehammer to all four pillars at once.
The Foundational Damage
Obviously. It’s a health crisis. Everyone is scared about catching the virus, what it means if they get it. Death.
Businesses are closing. Stock market is tumbling. People are getting laid off or not doing business. There’s a lot of fear about money.
What does “shelter-in-place” mean for people who don’t have a shelter? What happens to homeless kids who rely on school for a place to go when schools close?
If you are lucky to have a home, you’re likely spending a lot more time there, and that can be just as anxiety provoking. When your home is also suddenly your workplace, it can be hard to keep it feeling like a home. It no longer is that respite away from the office. You’ve suddenly lost your escape.
We rely on various other locations for comfort, connection, and escape. The local coffee shop, the gym, the yoga studio, the office. These places are our homes away from home. With many of these venues shut down, we’ve lost these places that we call home.
Even with social media and virtual connectivity, social distancing can create feelings of loneliness and isolation. Human beings crave community. We need touch. Hugs. Hands. Babies who aren’t held don’t survive.
Right now we are facing loses in all four of these foundational pillars.
The Rush to Do Something
There are many things we can do to help ourselves and others at this time. I’m sure you’ve read many tips already.
This is our culture: Rise above it. Push through it. Do something.
The rush to “do something” — to seize control in an uncertain situation — is what leads to panic buying and pandemonium and spreading false information. It’s reactive.
And it only feeds the fear and the frenzy.
The First Thing to Do
Instead of feeding the frenzy with a rush to action, we can serve ourselves and others better if we first pause and acknowledge our fears, our losses, our grief.
As always, the first thing to do is to find stillness. Connect inward. Hold space for your own experience.
Rather than running out to the store every day, or checking your news feed every five minutes, use the time to sit in stillness and be with the emotions.
They belong here.
Holding space for the fear stops it from spreading and infecting others. Virtual connection can be helpful but only if we are oriented to what’s helpful and not commiserating about our fears.
The work begins in the empty space. Allow the fear to come through. Acknowledge the loss. Grieve it.