Social distancing is a new word and process that we are all very familiar with at this point in time. Staying six feet apart from each other physically has meant we have had to find creative solutions too many situations. Experts predicted that we would start to see a sharp peak of COVID 19 cases if we did not take immediate action to lower the curve. Thanks to people working together, we seem to have lowered the curve and are now showing fewer numbers of infection and mortality rates than what was previously predicted and not just because of the social distancing but because of many other actions being taken such as contact tracing, testing, quarantines, better hygiene etc as the list goes on and on.
Several of the more positive likely outcomes of COVID 19 is better hygiene practices from everyone, likely resulting in less flu, cold and pneumonia cases. Over time, that should translate into a much healthier population. The accelerated use of technology is another very positive and likely outcome resulting in the vast reduction of carbon fuels used by airlines, commuters and the like as well as the reduction of the enormous amount of paper used by all of us allowing our forest to rebuild in a way that will allow our air to be cleaner and more healthy. In fact, satellite observations have noticed significant reductions in harmful emissions. In China alone, there was a 25% reduction of carbon emissions.* Very hard to feel good about any of the above given where we are mentally and emotionally right now, this much I know, but better days are coming our way.
One of the best ways to take care of our mental health is to simply be aware of our emotional health and we do that by recognizing the various emotional responses that we are experiencing. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004), a Swiss-born psychiatrist, gave us a very good Model of Grieving called the Kubler-Ross Model of Grieving. This model identifies five stages of grieving. Those five stages are: Denial + Anger + Bargaining + Depression + Acceptance. This model serves as a very good model of awareness when tragedy or loss happens.
Through the years, I have used a simple four step model of my own that has served me well. I am not smart enough to be a psychiatrist (I do have a Master Degree in Psychology and a Ph.D. in General Knowledge – let that sink in for a moment, the Ph.D. comment) that has enabled me to survive many of the previous economic crisis such as the Dot.com bust of the late 90’s, 9/11, the Financial Crisis of 2008 and as well as the COVID 19 Crisis of 2020. I call this very elaborate model of grieving MY WAY of dealing with crisis. I encourage you to find YOUR WAY of dealing with crisis.
My Way has four steps:
1. Shock and Denial
When I first heard about the crisis in Wuhan China, I was saddened, like many of us. But when businesses starting closing all around me, the stock market started crashing, lives were being loss, I went hard into this first step of shock and denial. How could something that at first we were being told was essentially the flu, be responsible for a global economic crisis? Then stories from Italy started coming out, then Spain, then our own country and then our world as we knew it, changed.
At first, many of us denied the strength of the impact and felt shocked looking around at how we were all impacted. However, with that stage of grieving mostly past us, I feel it is okay to recognize how we felt and evaluate where we are now.
After the initial shock, many people were angry. Angry at China, angry at our own government angry at the weaknesses exposed in our own healthcare system, and angry at the world for letting it spread. Just angry at the impact on our daily lives. This second stage of anger also includes all of our own anxiety and irritation. How could world governments have let all of us down so much? I tell my adult children often- It is okay to be angry or have other strong feelings, however it is also our responsibility to communicate those things in a responsible manner and help as much as we can.
Many of us are carrying extra weight around our shoulders, so practice a little extra patience, and positivity throughout your day. Your smile and thoughtful actions just might make a big difference to someone else. If anybody is stuck here in the anger step, please find ways to move forward as many others already are moving forward.
A British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, once quipped “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.”
Cooperation from industry, pharmaceuticals, and the government has never been better. Well, maybe during World War II, but the fact remains, it seems like everyone is pitching in and working together, even those in direct competition with each other. This give me great hope about a better future.
Together, we are globally deploying resources on a scale never seen before. Medically, we are sharing knowledge across the globe at an unprecedented rate, resulting in advancing technologies to combat a disease faster than ever before. Testing capabilities, building hospitals, making additional medical equipment like ventilators and N95 masks is happening at a rate unimaginable just a year ago. This also gives me great hope.
Economically business support programs like the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses, CARES Act, Families First Act, and even a stimulus bill have all passed and been implemented in seemingly days, sure, not flawlessly implemented but nevertheless, implemented in days. That is just a few programs here in the states. Globally, similar initiatives are being passed and implemented just as quickly. This also gives me great hope.
Perhaps, with this level of cooperation, humankind is on the way to finding our redemption and it is this kind of cooperation that gives me a tremendous about of hope about the future.
4. New Normal
As we are struggling to find meaning, and reaching out to those around us, telling our story to each other, we are starting to develop a new normal. After 9/11, we found a new division in the government, TSA, introduced to promote safety at our airlines. The younger generation has always known TSA, but us a generation or two ahead remember days when we could just board an airplane without removing our shoes. I am not saying all cultural changes are for the good, I am merely saying that we can learn to accept certain aspects as part of life. I don’t fully understand what these new normals will be, I just know that there will be many new normals.
Bringing It All Together
This is where I believe many of us are now, we are moving into some kind of new normal. On the personal and relational level, I see people practicing social distancing, I see people voluntarily quarantining theirselves, I see people practicing health and hygiene behaviors at a level only dreamed of previously, I see many new normals. Businesses have figured out ways to enable workers to stay home. The first time our office tried Zoom, I was amazed by how well it worked.
Meetings and working from home is a new norm for many people.
I feel this fourth step of My Way, the new normal acceptance step, is the place where I am moving to right now. For me to continue to resist, to fight mentally and emotionally with the new rules, regulations and environment around me is just not a healthy place to be, which by the way, just creates stress and suppresses my immune system making me more vulnerable to the COVID 19 virus. I am choosing to move forward into some level of acceptance of the new normals at this place in time. I am hearing from those who I speak with that most of us are now finding ourselves moving forward with this new way of life and exploring future opportunities. We are adjusting to our new roles in society and this is where many of us are now or heading to shortly so please come along with us.
As always, stay healthy, stay safe, stay positive and please please please help those around you!
Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant
Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.