While the working world figures out how to safely return workers to the workplace and workers figure out how to engage with a new workplace normal, people are increasingly stressed by the aftershock of the Coronavirus. While humans are resilient and adaptable, this Coronavirus situation seems to keep shifting and changing in new ways, constantly adding more frustration and anxiety to an already difficult situation.
Many individuals were struggling to make ends meet before COVID-19 and the stress for individuals and businesses has only increased over the past 2-3 months due to severe economic changes that have included lost jobs, businesses closures, increased food insecurities, and continued financial losses. Many people feel unsafe at work and at home, and that is a scary situation to be in. The saying “do it afraid” really applies these days.
When I think about personal needs and personal safety, my mind automatically goes back to my college psychology class and what I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. In this model, needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. In short, when someone cannot get their basic needs met it makes it difficult for them to grow and evolve and reach the top of the pyramid.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is relevant to most things surrounding our personal and professional life and most certainly matches our current situation and concerns. Currently each person’s financial and mental wellbeing are being challenged and inhibiting their ability to fulfil basic and psychological needs – people are struggling. In other words, the struggle is real and there are clear links between financial insecurity and poor mental wellbeing. A person’s mental wellbeing is shaped by various social, economic, and physical environments throughout their life. Financial wellbeing can be impacted by social, economic, and physical environments as well. Therefore, both mental and financial wellbeing are equally challenging to take care of and manage most of the time let alone during a national pandemic. According to a 2014 Wells Fargo survey, personal finance is the most difficult conversation people can have, ahead of death, politics, religion, and personal health, to say nothing of the stigma around mental health and mental illness. Let us just say “it’s complicated.”
While financial and mental wellbeing are complicated and are difficult to discuss – we must. We must confront these two wellness issues head on and find ways to help each other work through them – all the time, but especially now. Financial and mental wellbeing can be confronted and positively changed exactly this way. We must all be champions for ourselves and others. This means having vulnerable conversations, championing our personal wellbeing, pushing for personal and professional growth, supporting others with information, mentorship, and resources whenever needed. Take time to help yourself and others – all the time, but especially now.