Are you hoarding toilet paper? Even though you rationally know that the stores will shortly be restocked again, have you amassed a tower of tissue?
I have, even while knowing my obsession is absurd.
On Saturday, I was waiting in line at an Ocean State Job Lot because a friend suggested they might have toilet paper. The woman next to me had already been to five stores. She was laughing at her own absurdity, while also being driven to accumulate her own stock pile.
I suggested DIY toilet paper, like I did sometimes as a kid when camping. Why not plump up a beautiful basket in the bathroom with oak leaves from the backyard?
The business man behind me (clutching his allotted two packages of toilet paper like a child with a teddy bear), laughed. It was lunch time, the lines were really long and he shrugged at the wait and said: Don’t come out if you don’t want to wait in lines.
Surprising statement, yes? Men aren’t always so patient when shopping.
Have you noticed it too? All of us – together – right now, we seem so practical, so friendly. Ready to help. Polite. Chatting and laughing together. Building community wherever we go.
We’re US. Again.
The THEM, the Great Divide that was multiplying like its own uncontrollable virus, seems to be receding a bit. Yes? Do you see it, too?
COVID-19 is our poison, no doubt. But it just might just be our medicine and Great Connector, too.
And mind you, most of us are not connecting at our best. We’re stressed, and it’s obvious. On Saturday, I walked away with another woman’s cart, including her purse. She had to call out to me repeatedly, and then we both burst out laughing.
We seem to be more forgiving.
Not strangers but more like neighbors. Amid chaos, we appear to be responding to one another – with kindness.
And I think toilet paper may have something to do with it.
Last week, in the CNN Health article, The Psychology Behind Why Toilet Paper, Of All Things, Is The Latest Coronavirus Panic Buy, the author notes five reasons for our obsession.
Reason One is that when people are told danger lurks around the corner, and all you need to do is wash your hands – well, the brain does not compute. Danger looms large and you want me to sing Happy Birthday to myself twice, multiple times a day? That’s it?
The unknown is extensive in our lives. And we each have unique challenges that are stretching us to our limit.
Last week I saw every one of my onsite clients cancel like a house of cards. Some have already rescheduled for our online workshops and others are in the midst of such upheaval that everything is on hold.
All of us, we’re planning, then planning to cancel, then cancelling, then dealing with the fallout of cancelling, and then not knowing when to start the planning again.
Personally and professionally, we’re grieving a lot of cancelled hopes and dreams.
So now’s a good time to remember we are wired to connect
Did you know that we feel social pain in the same part of the brain that we feel physical pain? We are literally wired to connect, and wired to build safety and trust together (Why We Are Wired to Connect).
According to research in The Neuroscience of Trust (Harvard Business Review):
Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.
Business, family, community – we need each other and social connection is the pathway to increase our joy, engagement, energy and resilience.
Now’s also a good time to reclaim down time
Many of us are unusually tired right now. Adapting to the daily changes takes a lot of brain power.
Last week, NPR’s Morning Edition’s reviewed the new book by author Celeste Headlee, Do Nothing, How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing and Underliving (Too Busy? Make Time for ‘Do Nothing’).
We are reminded of the critical importance of unstructured mental leisure time. It’s a fascinating short review that challenges our basic assumptions on productivity.
So whether you’re working remotely right now or in a position of chronically putting out fires, it’s essential that you are kinder to yourself, that you cut yourself some slack. Let yourself space out, disconnect, turn off the phone, nap, forget things, take a long walk.