April 15,2020
Belongingness and Love

So why am I writing on my artists’ website BLOG about surviving and thriving in a pandemic?  Well,  my BLOG is about living a creative life and I am an artist, a teacher, and a creativity coach/counselor. At this time, we have to meet the challenges of the covid-19 crisis as creatively as we can. I invite you to respond and share your concerns and your tips for surviving creatively.

So, let’s say that you have a job and/or enough money to survive the closure of the economy for now. Maybe you can work from home or you work in an industry or profession that is a needed service right now. You are more fortunate than many others, so let’s start by being grateful for that.

If you’re work takes you outside of your home, then be careful. Practice social distancing and limit your exposure to others as much as possible. Keep areas around you disinfected and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Stay safe and keep your guard up. Don’t be afraid to remind your colleagues, clients, friends and families to stay at a safe distance, and don’t be too cool or too embarrassed to wear your mask.

If you’re fortunate enough to work from home, you are lucky to be able to be productive while also doing your part to contain the covid-19 virus.

People who don’t have to worry about financial survival and can continue some routine are in a better position to help others. The flight attendants always say to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others. If you’ve got “your oxygen mask on,” (i.e. you’ve helped yourself to survive), what can you do to help those who are struggling to help themselves?

Can you drop off groceries to an elderly relative or neighbor? Can you make some phone calls to check on someone who is sick or elderly? Can you help someone who isn’t computer savvy to order their groceries online? Can you just call a friend who is not dealing so well in this situation and be kind?

And, if you’re already surviving and thriving – what can you do to be kind to yourself and help meet your own needs?  (Remember the two previous BLOGS that talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.) If you’re meeting your survival and safety needs, then maybe your starving for human contact. If you’re home alone or with a few family members, maybe you’re missing your friends, other family members or that feeling of belonging to a group.

I know… I went from a holiday situation in which I was with friends all the time to suddenly being in quarantine at home for 14 days by myself, and I am continuing to follow the advice of public health officials by staying home. It’s lonely and there’s nowhere to go anyway. Everything is closed. My artists’ groups have shut down for the next few months, too. So, what can we do to stay in touch with others and fulfil our needs for belonging?

  • Call your parents, siblings, kids, grandkids, especially your parents and grandparents
  • Arrange facetime, Skype, Zoom parties with friends and family regularly
  • Hug your dog or cat (or other family members in your home)
  • Email and message friends
  • Shop for someone who can’t do it for themselves
  • Don’t wait for people to call you – initiate the contacts
  • Practice compassion and kindness
  • Play games online
  • Attend online meetings of art clubs, support groups, churches or hobby groups
  • Take your book club online
  • Call and check on a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time
  • If you are suffering from isolation in a more serious way – depression, PTSD, trauma, etc. – call a therapist - many are holding sessions via Skype, Zoom, telephone, etc.
  • Participate in organized group events, such as clapping for healthcare workers at 7 PM, hearts in the window, world prayer groups, etc.
  • Do something for the cause – sew masks, deliver food, whatever you can think of that helps others…
  • Love yourself.

If you have other suggestions, add to the list by responding to this blog.

© Dr. Carla Weaver


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April 06,2020
Survive and then Thrive

I know that many people are suffering in many different ways right now due to the covid-19 virus.  People have lost their jobs, are financially strapped, lost investments, are sick, have family members who are sick, are trapped in abusive situations, are elderly and can’t get the help they need, are working on front line jobs and exposed to covid-19 on a daily basis, can’t get groceries, cant’s get needed supplies for work, are alone and lonely, don’t know how to be alone … and probably a lot of other things I haven’t listed here.

People are afraid. We’ve never been in this situation before and we don’t really know what’s going to happen next.

How do we deal with all of these fears? Well, the first thing to remember is that love is the opposite of fear. Try to practice love and compassion. Maybe that doesn’t seem practical if you’re stuck in fear. But, if you can try to lift your thinking out of fear, then you will be in a better position to help yourself. Calm your mind. There are a few ways you can take that first step:

You can also search for guided meditations on YouTube.

  • Call a friend or several friends or family members. Try to call people you can talk to about your situation who will be positive and understanding. Don’t call the ones who will feed your panic.
  • Journal. Write down your fears and concerns to get them out on paper where you can examine them rationally and deal with them.
  • Read something calming. Try Kahlil Gibran, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Gerald Jampolsky, or some other authors to whom you are drawn.
  • Exercise. Within the social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, exercise.
  • Enjoy some humor, art or music.

When you can calm your mind and replace fear with love and compassion, pray for guidance, then move on to a more practical problem solving approach to solve the specific concerns that you have.

  • If you are concerned about your own immunity or health situation, or a family member’s, read the website of your local, regional, and national governments related to covid-19. Follow their guidelines.
  • If your concern relates to financial issues, consult the websites for national and provincial/state government relief programs to see if they apply. And/or consult with your bank to see what assistance they can provide related to interest or payment relief, lines of credit, loans, or small business programs.
  • If you’ve lost your job and you want to and are able to work, think about the services needed now and who is hiring – grocery stores and distributors, medical supplies manufacturers and distributors, companies putting their businesses online (web site development, online shopping, education), online education/course development, online coaching and counseling, delivery services, dog walking.
  • Do you own a small business? Can you take phone orders or deliver your product or service online?
  • Can’t get groceries? Ask a friend, order online for pick up or delivery, check out take out meals and restaurants, meals on wheels, other meal delivery services. Costco delivers non perishable items. Amazon may have some food items.
  • Are you in an abusive situation? Call a crisis line, a support group, or a therapist. Arrange a safe place NOW before you need it.
  • Alone and lonely? Call a friend or friends….use Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime, Messenger, Facebook. You can arrange a group or one on one call for social support.
  • You can attend an online support group, such as Alanon or AA - check out their websites: https://www.aa.org/ orhttps://al-anon.org/

Finally, express gratitude for what you have and for those who help you, and think creatively about how to resolve your own situation.  First things first…..take the steps to survive.  (See my blog post from April 1), and then take steps to turn fear into love, compassion and kindess. Survive and then thrive.

© Dr. Carla Weaver


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April 01,2020
Survival

I’m back. I’ve said that before, and then I dropped off blogging again. Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say. And, a couple of times I got discouraged by some pretty critical feedback, so I stopped writing.  But, right now, I think that my blog can be helpful and I have something to say.

Many people are scared about the covid-19 crisis, and we are all stuck inside in various circumstances with perhaps too much time on our hands to think and worry.

So, I was thinking about where to start, and the most important thing is SURVIVAL. After all, if we get wiped out by covid-19, nothing else will matter, will it?

As I was thinking about survival, I was reminded about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a good model to put the idea of survival into context. So, let’s start with that …

Most people who have studied business, psychology or sociology are familiar with this model. But, if that’s not your line of work, you may not have heard of it.

Simply put, Maslow said that we strive to fulfil our needs in a prioritized order. So, if we don’t have a home or food on the table, we aren’t meditating to find our higher purpose. If we’ve lost our job, we’re focused on solving that problem before trying to join an expensive golf club where we can feel accepted. Just common sense, really.

Here’s the hierarchy … starting from the bottom … we first fulfill our basic physiological needs … food, water, health. Then, we take care of safety and security, followed by the need to belong by having intimate relationships and friendships….then we try to fulfill our need for self-esteem, that feeling of accomplishment that makes us feel good. Finally, we work on being self-actualized humans who feel fulfilled and express their creativity.  That’s it in a nutshell.  So, this virus has put us right back at the bottom of the pyramid looking after our basic needs. Yup.  People are hoarding toilet paper!

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Source: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html, Retrieved April 1, 2020

 

In today’s population, anyone born after the “dirty thirties” or World War II has not had to worry too much about their basic needs.  We’ve been fortunate that we have lived in a mostly prosperous time with cyclical dips in the economy. I’m not saying that no one has had tough times.  Lots of people have experienced health concerns, lost jobs, family crises, financial difficulties…  Some have even been affected by natural disasters like fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. Everyone has faced survival issues at some time, some more serious than others. But right now is different … covid-19 threatens our very existence … anyone can get it. Sadly, the world wasn’t prepared, and no one has the magic formula to solve it overnight.

So, we’re all scared, except for maybe those who are in denial, or those who still think it’s a hoax. There are all kinds of fears that people are experiencing varying from being financially wiped out due to losses of jobs or investments, to concerns about keeping families and friends safe, to what if I get it?

So, how are we going to survive? The experts say, social distancing and isolation are the answers, and we might have to stay in for weeks or months.

It seems like a lot of people have different interpretations of what social distance and isolation means. The selfish interpretation is to say, it doesn’t apply to me, and to go about doing what you always do. Don’t do that. It puts you at risk and everyone you contact. If you don’t care about anyone else, at least save yourself. Stay home.

Stay at home. Save yourself, your family, and your friends. We’ve probably all gone to work or gone to the store, or gone to a party when we’ve been sick in the past.  But, we can’t do that this time.  So, here’s how you can survive:

  1. Stay home. Only go out for emergencies (like if you run out of wine). I digress. Real emergencies. It’s ok to get groceries and medical needs.
  2. Don’t be going to the store every day – keep a list going and go once a week. Every time you go out, you put yourself and everyone you contact at risk.
  3. Don’t hoard. The world isn’t going to run out of toilet paper. We make that right here in Canada…we’ll be good. When you buy more than what you need, you may deprive someone else of what they need. People with disabilities and seniors can’t get out as readily as others, so just buy what you need and leave some on the shelf for the next guy. Think about that nurse or doctor who’s been in the ER and has to shop on their time off….what if they can’t get the food or toilet paper that they need? When you hoard, you take care of your own needs while depriving others of the opportunity to take care of their needs.
  4. Help those less fortunate. If you are going to the grocery store, ask your senior neighbour or your uncle or your mom if you can get anything for them.
  5. Don’t visit your family and friends in person. Call them. Facetime them. Don’t go there. It’s hard, but this could save a life.
  6. If you do have to go out, stay 2 meters from others, sneeze and cough in a Kleenex or sleeve, wear gloves, use sanitizer, wipe surfaces, wash your hands when you get home. Masks?  The experts can’t decide. Listen to the news and decide. When you get home, wipe off the items you purchased with disinfectant or soap and water. Throw away the bags.
  7. Keep informed. Watch the news and follow instructions. Follow the FACTS.  Check the sources of the information. Who said it? What do they know? Where did you read it? Is the source credible?
  8. Take care of yourself – eat well, take your vitamins, keep your immunity up.

 

Take these steps to survive. Stay tuned...

 

© Dr. Carla Weaver 2020


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