We are finding ourselves in a massive period of uncertainty right now, with many of the things we took for granted, freedom of movement, the ability to work and socialise with those around us, being restricted in a way none of us could have predicted at the start of the year.
And whilst all of these measures are necessary and vital for the health and wellbeing of our communities, it can present a range of challenges in terms of how we look after ourselves.
And it is important that we look after ourselves. As the famous saying goes “please secure your mask before helping others”. We are all being stretched in many different ways right now – unusual working conditions, extra childcare and family responsibilities for example – that we really do need to think about ourselves just a little bit, if we are going to make it through this prolonged period of upheaval.
So I’d like you to take some time to think about what your non-negotiables are in terms of looking after yourself. What do you need to ensure you are operating at an acceptable level for you?
If you’re struggling, I’ve put some headings below to have a think about, based loosely on “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs”
By this I’m talking about being able to eat and drink properly (not just for survival, but to feel good), exercise at a level that is right for you, and take physical care of yourself.
What do you need to do in order to maintain a sense of control in this area, and how can you make it happen. For example, your non-negotiables might be things like:
- Having decent coffee in the house
- 30 mins exercise each day
- A minimum of 6 hours sleep
Once you have pinned down your must haves, figure out how to make them a priority. It could be something like a coffee subscription service, a family fitness class (eg like Joe Wicks PE class) or bike ride, or starting a new habit, such as charging phones out of the bedroom to ensure you don’t miss out on sleep through mindless scrolling.
Psychological needs - connection
As humans we are social beings, and not getting our social needs met can have a big impact on our mental health. The degree of social connection required for us to feel content will vary from person to person so it’s about figuring out what you need. It could be –
- Taking part in a club / group activity (as and when social distancing rules allow – consider online groups right now)
- Calling or messaging people regularly
- Taking time out to play a board game with housemates or partners rather just Netflix-ing
Again, when you know what level of connection you need, you can figure out how to make it a reality – by signing up to groups if that works for you, or just adding a reminder to your calendar to call a certain person.
Psychological needs - self esteem
We all need to feel like we are doing something of value, that we are achieving something in order to feel fulfilled, but what that looks like will be different for each person. You may get your feelings of accomplishment from paid work, from volunteering or from looking after your family.
In each situation, working out what it is that gives you fulfilment is key, then putting a plan in place to get it. For example, you may have non-negotiables around -
- Performing a certain role at work
- Finding time to hold certain positions or roles within social or voluntary activities (eg parkrun run director)
- Doing certain things for your family (eg Sunday dinner together may be non-negotiable for you)
Self fulfilment needs
Your personal needs are the things you do just for you. These could be things like meditation, travel, or creative pursuits that you do purely for enjoyment. These things can make a huge difference to the satisfaction we feel about our life, and so it’s worth figuring out what you love, and how to make it part of your day to day life, for example, it might be worth setting aside some time in the evening to pursue a hobby, even if it means something else on the to-do list gets pushed to the next day.
So what are your basic needs?
And how are you going to ensure that you are getting them met?
If you'd like to talk more about the steps we can take to thrive rather than just survive in this uncertain time, why not head over to my facebook group The Career Confidence Club, or click here to drop me a message.