Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

We are entering into a new world having been under the constant fear of the COVID-19 experience. There is the full spectrum where some individuals who are still in a state of heightened concern and take all the precautions of wearing a mask even while driving in their car alone or walking outside, while there are others who don’t wear a mask at all and have pretty much resumed their daily routines pre-COVID-19. Whatever your state of mind is at is fine, but I wanted to bring some awareness about why there is this undeniable need to feel safe in humans.

A long time ago I realized that we have certain core essential needs that we require to feel safe such as a roof over our heads, appropriate clothing, food to eat and financial resources. Anytime one of those elements are not accounted for in our lives, on some level we don’t truly feel safe. Due to our adaptability, we can deal with a temporary challenge in one or more of these areas, but if the situation prolongs then a low-grade anxiety and worry begin to set in. I discovered an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, who identified seven basic human needs:

1. Air

2. Water

3. Food

4. Shelter

5. Safety 

6. Sleep

7. Clothing (in some cases)

I got half of the core needs but missed some not so obvious components like air, water and sleep. Beyond these core needs due to the constructs of society – a smartphone has almost become a must and a necessity; even influencers and Yelp help us choose which establishment to go to and what to buy. The million-dollar question is for you to determine for yourself, what do you need in your life to feel safe? The moment that you feel safe, then your body physiology shifts from a fight or flight state to a recovery and healing state. In this article, I will be sharing some concepts on how you can establish a certain degree of safety in your life, which will lead to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.

Physical safety

The most important physical basic elements that we need to feel safe is simply a roof over our heads and clothing to keep us either warm, dry and secure. Other than that, on a physical level, nutritious and adequate amounts of food is essential. To not have to want or worry about where your next meal will come from also brings peace of mind. To maintain a solid physical constitution and keep our immune system bolstered, supplements such as Vitamin C, zinc and quercetin is a necessity during these uncertain COVID-19 times. Clean and adequate intake of water is also vital to keep all your organs functioning at a high level. One survey of 3,003 Americans discovered that 75 percent of them were chronically dehydrated.

I discovered on WebMD that children get dehydrated much more easily than adults and older people require more fluids due to certain health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease, and additionally, begin to lose their sense of thirst. WebMD also disclosed that you lose about 10 or more cups of water every day just by breathing, sweating, urinating and living. This is where it’s up to you to make sure you drink at least eight to 10 cups of water a day. One simple way to know you are well hydrated is to look at the color of your urine; darker the color less hydrated and pale urine means properly hydrated.

Emotional and Mental Safety

This safety is hard to quantify because many elements come into play. One is the quality of air and amount of oxygen you breathe. Oftentimes when someone is stressed out, worried and in a high state of anxiety, breathing becomes shallow and almost nonexistent. Just know that oxygen is essential and necessary to keep you alive. We are fortunate to live in Hawai‘i where we don’t have to worry about our air quality, but the one thing is to realize what life stressors are impacting your ability to breathe. With the fluctuations in the stock market and certain banks defaulting also creates some emotional and mental havoc, along with inflation and rising costs of necessities like our food, gas and electric prices. This is where seeking advice from individuals who are experts in their respective fields is suggested. Like your health, be proactive in the health of your portfolio and financial acumen in order to create mental safety. Taking the time to build up your knowledge and becoming aware of your financial wellness is crucial at this time.

Monitoring your thoughts and choosing which thoughts to entertain will further help you create safety. Mental illness has been shown to cause 90% of suicides. Striving to achieve a positive attitude helps you to reframe bad situations more than holding a negative attitude. So, you can achieve mental and emotional safety by practicing on focusing on the positives and being grateful for both the good and bad things that happen in life, which in turn will help you combat dis-ease. Being able to let go of certain things that you have no control over will also help bring mental and emotional ease.

Spiritual Safety

Everyone has their own definition of their spiritual and religious beliefs. However, the one thing that helps create safety is being in a community with similar-minded individuals. If you already have a strong faith or spiritual practice, hats off to you. For those that have struggled due to being alienated by the COVID-19 experience, it behooves you to get connected once again with friends, family or your spiritual community. It has been shown that a cooperative attitude and being part of a group increases your chances of feeling and staying safe. Another good spiritual practice to adopt is to take moments during your day to quiet your mind and be present with your breath. If you have a hard time quieting your mind, try observing all the thoughts that come into your mind and just let it flow. Instead of trying to quiet your mind, let your mind go and you may find that after a few minutes those thoughts will become like white noise and may push you into being more present in the moment. The trick is to not be attached to any of the thoughts that your mind may conjure up.


Feeling safe is just as important as breathing. By looking at what creates stress for you or where you feel insecure is the first step towards you finding inner safety. You alone determine what you need and don’t need to feel safe. Once you become aware, let this awareness guide you to shore up the places in your life where you feel unsafe. Know that you have the power to choose how you want to navigate this life of yours and create the safety to thrive in your life once more.

Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mānoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.


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