How Basic Needs affect Personal Change

Basic Needs
With the New Year approaching, we tend to have hope that things will be different for us in the coming year. We will believe we will have renewed energy to finally achieve our weight-loss goal, to get back into those clothes we’ve been hanging on to, to improve our energy levels, or to achieve greater health through dietary changes.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking and reading about why change is so hard for some people and I was reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Do you remember learning about that in school? If not, here is a very basic refresher for you. Maslow’s theory states that our most basic needs must be satisfied before we pursue higher goals and values.

For the purpose of this post. I’m only going to focus on the most basic needs. Our most basic needs are air, water, food, and sleep. Otherwise known as survival mode, I made the survival part up, but anyone that has become a parent or is in the baby-toddler stage knows that your days are pretty much focused on either providing basic needs for others and seeing how little you can survive on. Your main focus might be feeding others, making sure they are eating enough, and wondering what to feed them. You may also be obsessed with other people’s sleeping habits — getting them to sleep, keeping them asleep, praying they sleep, and which may lead to you to NOT sleeping. The demands of providing basic needs to other may leave you feeling like you have little time to breathe. Or maybe you find yourself in this stage of life without babies and toddlers.

Our next most basic needs are security, order, and stability. Achieving security needs also brings on financial responsibilities. We work to provide security and stability to our lives having a place to live, a dependable vehicle, and maybe even save for the future. We have work demands that require our time, attention, and energy and we strive to balance (order) our work-home lives.

“When basic needs are pressing, people may have difficulty thinking beyond today or tomorrow.”

During these stages of life you may find it extremely difficult to think beyond satisfying your basic or security needs. This stage of life is hard and can be stressful. Your health and wellness may not be your top priority and I’m not suggesting you hit the gym full force, meal prep like crazy, or spend hours figuring out how to get the results you want. For this stage of life, you might be better off focusing on making sure your basic needs are being met. Here are a few ideas on how you can accomplish that with a little daily effort.

Learn how to focus your breath, take deep breaths, or meditate. Taking 10-20 minutes per day (or whenever your stress levels are high) to shut-out the internal and external noise will help you reduce stress, improve your concentration, improve your mood and so much more.

Get hydrated. Our bodies are pretty great at regulating our water needs through our thirst, but that doesn’t mean we always pay attention to those cues. A few not so common signs of dehydration are you stop sweating, an increased heart, you become irritable, you may have a chalky film on your skin. The amount of water a person need varies from person to person and depends on what we are eating and drinking, the climate, and our activity level. To make sure you are getting enough fluids, eat fruit and vegetables in addition to drinking water. You can also pay attention to your body’s cues — thirst, a change in your body weight —  a 1-2% loss can indicate you are beginning stages of dehydration, and the color and frequency of going to the bathroom.

When we are in survival mode, we tend to just grab what we can and move on to the next thing that needs our attention. Just like water needs vary from person to person, so do our energy needs. Daily energy needs depend on our age, physical fitness, activity level, and gender. You may not be ready to start figuring out how much you need to eat or even start tracking what you eat. You can still be aware of what you are eating, instead of stopping at the nearest drive-thru or throwing in a frozen pizza, try eating food that will provide you energy – lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthy fats. If you rely on drive-thru meals to make life easier, then focus on making better choices for your other meals and snacks.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. During this stage of life it is best to make sleep a priority – catch up on sleep, work at getting more sleep, or addressing your sleep problems with a doctor.

Maintaining our security needs may mean we do not have as much money as we would like to devote to taking care of ourselves (through health or fitness). You may find you need to find a way to improve your financial situation or change your financial situation before you are a little more open to devoting more time and energy to changing your body.

While I don’t have an easy answer for you, what I can suggest is that you take a look at where your money is going and start thinking about what you need to improve your health and wellness (reducing debt, increasing your income, hiring a sitter weekly/monthly, investing in your health, getting a monthly massage, a weekend getaway with your spouse, etc.) Remember, you are the expert in your life and it might take some trial and error until you find what works best for you (and your family).

Did this post resonate with you? I hope these tips help you find ways to be aware of your health and empower you to take small steps to maintain your current health or begin to improve your health until you can devote more time and energy. If you need to work on sever or all of these, pick one and focus on it until you master it, then move on to the next one until you master it, repeat.

Stay tuned to the DIY events page for more Challenge Group events coming in 2017. Some will be free and I’m going to be rolling out workshop-type groups that will help move forward with your health goals. What types of workshops would you like to participate in?

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