top of page
  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

The pandemic got you down? Look to Maslow!

The pandemic is predictably taking a toll on people.

“Overthinking is not a disease; it is due to the underuse of your creative power.” Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

“Your feelings might seem overwhelming but they are not your entirety: you are more and beyond what they can overwhelm.” Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana, PhD, MBA

I have a confession to make. My stomach hurts all the time and I am beginning to have trouble sleeping.

I should be thriving during this pandemic! I am resilient by nature and my employer has done an outstanding job of pivoting to keep us productive while working at home. My employees are doing well and the part of the organization I am responsible for is excelling. Because I am not commuting or traveling, I have more time for self development and pursuing other interests. My wife is employed and is diligently expanding her skill stack to increase her future opportunities.

But my stomach hurts all the time and I am having problems sleeping.

I recently saw a news article that stated 25% of young adults have considered suicide since the COVID-19 lock down began. 25%! That is incredible and alarming.

The young people I know are struggling. Here are a couple of examples.

I know an excellent young lady who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a top tier school in early March. The best job she can find is babysitting. That job creates additional stress because the school age children are negatively impacted and need the structure that school provides. They aren't getting it. She is also worried that she might somehow infect the children, so she is completely self-isolating. Which makes her even more sad.

I know another young lady who is completing her first year of college from home. She was excited about going to college, making new friends, and experiencing all college has to offer. Instead she sits in her bedroom and submits assignments. This makes her sad.

I could go on, and I am sure each of you have examples of young people whose lives have been upended by this disease and governments reaction to it.

And everyone is dealing with the broader weirdness of COVID-19 rules. I always have a mask with me, and everywhere I go other people are wearing masks. Weird! Unless they are sitting at a table, then they aren’t infectious and can take off their masks. Huh?

If you have studied Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you know that the impact of COVID-19 on people's mental state was predictable. The Maslow Pyramid is below.

The theory states that the needs at each level must to be met before you can ascend to the next level. At the bottom of the pyramid are the basic needs of physiological and safety. Do you feel safe? Are you worried about your health or finances? If so, you are stuck at the lower level of the pyramid.

We can predict that people who are stuck at the bottom of the pyramid will find their personal relationships suffering, their personalities may change, and they will probably perform less effectively at work.

If you are a parent, watch your children closely.

If you are an employer, really care about what your people are going through and don’t be surprised when their performance degrades. Be decent about it and remember they are human beings who are going through a hard time.

I just wish my stomach would quit hurting all the time...


I have been thinking about ethics a lot over the past couple of weeks. I try to live by a personal code of ethics where I am honest and trustworthy, and I try to treat everyone fairly. Of course I make mistakes! That is part of the human condition. In my personal life, I was out maneuvered by someone who behaved in what can only be described as a completely amoral way. I never expected that. There is some life lesson there, but I haven’t sorted it out yet.


bottom of page