Global Pandemic? Step 1; Psychological Safety

In 2010 I was massively excited to watch Season 2 of a post-apocalyptic reality show called ‘The Colony’ where ten people had to survive a viral-outbreak quarantine situation.⠀

On night one they have food, they choose a building for shelter and go to sleep. The producers, in order to teach them an important lesson, send ‘raiders’ in the middle of the night to steal all of their stuff. The lesson being that at the top of the list of things we need to survive is not food or shelter but security.⠀

Now, I’m not saying we’re going to end up in some post-apocalyptic situation where we devolve into warring tribes (I sure as hell hope not), but we are in a massive global pandemic that has taken away a lot of our freedoms and sent a lot of us into flight or flight mode. So, when putting your priorities together I would start with one thing and one thing only; Safety.⠀

Safety means both physical and psychological safety.⠀

In the first few weeks, this should be our priority. Not our jobs, not ‘productivity’, safety. ⠀

Our physical safety consists of obvious things like a safe place to live while in isolation, you are essentially stuck in place wherever you are isolating right now, but if your safety is at risk, please leave. Now. Our (NZ’s) food supply seems to be quite stable, so getting essential items isn’t currently something you need to spend energy worrying about. Please do think about people who cannot secure food for themselves, people who can’t afford it or relied on a person or service that is no longer operating or able to meet their needs. Plenty of posts have been going around on social media about places to donate to help people who don’t have access to food, please consider donating if you can.⠀

Off the back of our physical safety is our psychological safety. Right now, a lot of people feel like they don’t have any. Their minds are full of worry, panic and anxiety, a lot of which is completely warranted and can feel overwhelming and frightening. ⠀

Prioritise your psychological safety by starting with the basics; 

  • Get your physical safety in order and make sure you’re getting out in the sun for at least 30 minutes every day. Vitamin D is very important for our mental health. 
  • Get some exercise, however you can while still practising safe physical distancing. Make sure you keep your body moving, generating those endorphins. 
  • Make sure you have plans in place for eventualities or emergencies. If you are worried about something, sit down with someone and work out a plan to put into place if that worry becomes a reality.
  • Understand the things that you can’t control and the things that you can. You can’t control other people. You can’t control infectious diseases. You CAN control yourself, your emotions and your reactions to your situation. Focus on those.
  • Show some self-love. Go easy on yourself. This is an unprecedented situation that none of us was prepared for or has faced before in our lifetime, your reaction, whatever it is, is okay.
  • Let go of judgement. There is no ‘normal’ right now. There is no ‘supposed to’ or ‘should do’. There just is.

And that means letting go of what you think you should be achieving right now. Fuck ‘productivity’. There is nothing that you HAVE to be achieving. Yes, you may still be working from home, but you will also still be working from home next week. You can ‘tick things off’ next week. You can be ‘productive’ next week. Or maybe the week after. However long it takes to make sure that you are psychologically safe.⠀

Be safe. If you need to talk, I’m here.⠀


(And wash your hands…) ⠀

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