If you have been a client of mine, or in any of my training sessions, you know that I just about always have Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in my back pocket to pull out at any time to analyze human motivation and behaviors. This period, as we watch and feel the direct and indirect effects of Covid-19, I can’t help but see how relevant understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is to this time. Understanding it cannot only provide you with insights about your behaviors, but also about the behaviors of your colleagues, your children, community members etc.
Abraham Maslow created a pyramid to highlight that our needs fall on different levels. The first three levels of the pyramid are our basic needs, which relate to our physiological and safety needs. Once these needs are met, an individual begins to move up to the higher needs which relate to love, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Maslow’s theory clearly outlines that satisfying the lower levels of needs are essential for you to be able to move up to the higher levels of needs and must remain present.
Here is a quick breakdown of each level.
Now that you have a basic understanding of this pyramid, take a mental walk with me. Let’s imagine an individual functioning at ‘Love and Belonging.’ They have a relatively good job and can take care of the basic physiological and safety needs of their family. They start to hear about this Covid-19 illness, and they proceed with caution; based on what is being seen on the news abroad, this is a serious thing. Then they hear that there is a case in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Then their hours are cut at work. Then within a week, they are no longer working. With a blink of an eye, their pyramid level has been shaken. They went from wanting to set up a play area for their child at home, or to have church friends over for lunch, to being unable to interact with others, worrying about their health, and their ability to provide basic food and water for their family. Their motivations at the ‘Love and Belonging’ level are light years away from where they are now at the physiological level. They are now willing to do whatever they need to do to ensure that their family is taken care of…even if that means disobeying curfew to go to the neighbors for some rice, or to the lady down the road that will provide drinking water on credit.
Take another mental walk with me. For this mental walk, let’s discuss a young professional: one that has recently returned home to a high-power job and is at the top of their game. They have recently bought a fabulous new condo. They eat, breathe and sleep self development and building their personal brand, as they know where they want to be, how they want to get there, and by when. Like the character in our first mental walk, as Covid-19 makes its way to Turks and Caicos Islands, they begin to get concerned. Now working from home, they are working in isolation. No more water cooler chats, no more impromptu lunch dates. The beautiful condo that they loved to entertain at, no longer has anyone to entertain. They find that when they sit down to work, they cannot focus. They are anxious, irritated and begin to worry every time they feel a tingle in their throat. They scroll social media wondering why they feel so exhausted, but their peers are managing to learn new languages and launch new business ideas on IGTV or through their Facebook lives. This individual is no longer concerned with the behaviors at the ‘self-actualization’ and ‘esteem’ levels, but is now focused on ‘love and belonging.’
For the last few weeks, I have had a lot of questions related to innovative ways to educate during this time, to provide services and basically to take advantage of the captive market as so many individuals are looking for solutions at this time. Yolande Robinson, the entrepreneur whose children are usually in school, who makes a steady salary and who is normally blessed to have awesome house help…would have been all over that! The current Yolande Robinson is taking it one day at a time. Although I don’t think my entrepreneur brain ever takes a break, my motivations shift to activities that will provide physical and psychological safety for my family and for those in my tribe. This Yolande Robinson has no problem abandoning the schedule for a family game of Uno with a side of popcorn, because all the business ideas brewing will not be able to take flight if the bottom three levels of my pyramid are not stable.
My advice during this time is to take things one day at a time. Focus your energy on the now. Be present with those in your household and do what you can.
Be compassionate with others, as many pyramid levels have been hit with the force that Hurricane Irma was felt here in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but moving as slowly as Hurricane Dorian moved over The Bahamas. Let judgement go out the window. Rather than judge behaviors, see how you can help…from a distance of course. How can you add value during this time?
For those of you that have managed to stay on the same level of the pyramid, but just feel a little ‘off,’ know that some days you will be more productive than others. Some days you will be on top of your child’s home learning assignments and super focused in your work Zoom calls, and some days the family may all abandon ‘the right thing to do’ and overdose on technology time.
Take deep breaths, reset daily, work from where you are, and give yourself grace.
Be safe my friends.
Every month on Inspirations Turks and Caicos, I set a new challenge the first week of the month. This month’s scheduled challenge went out the window and was replaced with a mental wellness challenge.
Covid-19 has turned the world upside down in many respects. Although we are facing a health pandemic, we are also facing an economic crisis, collective grief, new levels of fear and anxiety, and uncharted territory for many as it relates to social isolation.
Worldwide our no. 1 concern must be to flatten the curve of this pandemic and find our new normal in the way we live our lives. In this period, while our brave health care workers and front-line essential workers are out in front of the battle, those at home need to make an intentional effort to stay not only physically but also psychologically well.
Prior to this pandemic, mental wellness has always been known to be a key factor in our overall health. We know that loneliness and depression can affect one’s health; anxiety can become debilitating and stress can become overwhelming. These mental challenges affect us both psychologically and physiologically. Now, as social distancing turned into self-isolations and quarantines, we are facing even new trials that increase the likelihood of deeper mental wellness challenges.
As a self-employed business owner with three children under the age of 10, I would say that it’s been an interesting ride! I am also quite cognizant that this may be a marathon and not a sprint. For this reason, as I embrace my new personal, family and civic responsibility to STAY HOME, I acknowledge that mental wellness also needs to be on the top of my list…and yours.
Mental wellness may seem like a luxury for some at this time, as others fight the battles of their lives. In reality, for those of us safe and healthy at home trying to find our way through this new normal, it’s inevitable that there are unsettling moments. We may be tempted to brush these feelings aside, but it is better to take the time to acknowledge them. It’s how we feel! What then should we do? In addition to drawing on your faith or spiritual beliefs, try to plan for your overall mental wellbeing. It will make this STAY at HOME time more manageable. It will put us in a better position to be understanding and compassionate with ourselves, our families, and others.
In addition to this week’s daily challenges related to Mental Wellness, here are my top 6 ways to be intentional about your daily mental wellness and resilience during this time.
Our world is filled with uncertainty. As we focus on dealing with the effects of Covid-19 worldwide, we really don’t know what tomorrow, next week or next month will look like. During these times of uncertainty, without a clear and confirmed timeline on this current lifestyle, I encourage you to step back and focus on a mental wellness plan for you and the members in your household. There will be bumps on the road, but if we can pad ourselves with mental wellness/ resilience strategies, we may just make the time more manageable.
Well, our kids have now been out of school for two weeks. Firstly, I want to speak to the teachers. Superstars!!!!! So many of you have had so many things on your plate! The learning curve to administering online learning is pretty huge, and I know many of you had a lot of trouble shooting to manage this during this period, while also still having to care for your families and their needs. Hats off to you! My hope for you is that during Easter Break you can have some downtime to recharge and regroup…especially in the event that that the children of the nation do not return to school physically after the holidays.
Parents, whoooiiieeee! I know for some of you it has been quite a ride. The expectations and guidance that have been given by schools have varied and I know some rides have been smoother than others. Many of you also have multiple children to manage, which means multiple learning schedules, and if you are really unlucky, a demanding work schedule and a toddler or two!
For parents whose children have gone to schools that have provided some form of online learning, this has added structure to your day. Many students were required to check in at certain times and submit work within certain deadlines, and this would have created a schedule in your household. So now that Easter break is here, does that mean bedtime is out the window along with any semblance of structure?
My advice… hang on to some of the structure. It may be what makes this period manageable for you. In last week’s episode of ‘A Child’s Life’ I emphasised that schedules and routines can be helpful during times of uncertainty. We are in a pandemic. We have never seen anything like this, and this pandemic goes beyond health and affects the level of fear, stress and anxiety in the household. In some cases, it may even be laced with grief, as some may be grieving the loss of their every day normal, their businesses, visions they had for this period and even worse, perhaps a loved one. This is a lot to deal with as a parent, especially when you are working from home, parenting full-time, managing your child’s home learning, and making sure that the day to day domestic tasks are taken care of.
Many of us hold our breath every time we open a new update graphic form the Ministry of Health, as there is no predictability during this time. So, as we go into the next two weeks where our children may not have a structured school schedule, I encourage you to make a structured family schedule or routine with the elements that you can make predictable. This can do wonders for the energy in the household and make the days run just a little bit smoother.
Begin by looking at the adult schedules in the house. Where there is more than one adult, discuss the amount of time each needs for working from home and performing domestic tasks. This is especially important for those of you with young children that are not quite independent and call your name 40-60 times a day! Once you and the other adult(s) in your house have discussed this, work backwards and add in what your children will be doing on your schedule. The key in creating family schedules and routines is that you are setting yourself up for success. Expecting Tommy who is 4 years old to read independently for an hour, is not setting yourself up for success. Be sure to be realistic about your children, their needs, your personality and needs, and the personality and needs of any other adults in the household. Also, do include down-time.
For those of you that are single parents, begin by looking at your work and home responsibilities. Schedule these items to correspond with low supervision activities with your children, such as T.V. watching and tech time. Schedule their learning time, or other times that may require your support at a time when you are more likely to be able to give them this time. Make sure this schedule works for you!
For children that usually have many activities outside of the home, it may take them a little while to adjust to unstructured downtime, but remember that imagination, creativity and self-discovery are three skills that come out of being bored!
For those of you with older children and teens, a routine or schedule is also really important if you want to avoid days spent on Netflix, social media and video games. They may enjoy sleeping in and lazy mornings during this time, which is fine. You can work with them to add structure for the rest of their day that may include their study time, chores, exercise time and family time. Make them an active participant in discussing the family schedule.
I know it is tempting to throw routine and schedules out the window as we are knocking on Easter Holidays’ door, but do remember that we are in unusual times. A little predictability and structure can go a long way for all members in the household.
Here is a sample family schedule for those of you with young children.
Be safe and Stay home.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.