Knowing about and understanding our Five Basic Needs as described by Dr William Glasser will help us to cope in this pandemic. It will help us to make choices that will keep us calm and significantly reduce unhealthy fear and stress. Fulfilling our five basic needs helps us to stay mentally healthy and enjoying life. Interestingly, our basic needs are of little interest unless they are threatened. And right now, for many our basic needs are being threatened! For some, all of the five basic needs are being threatened.
With the world in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic it is fair to argue that many individuals and communities are extremely fearful. Especially if we perceive fear to be a state of being where we are afraid of someone or something as being likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful. COVID 19 certainly fits that description.
As we are bombarded with COVID 19 information all day every day, some of us have become unconsciously fearful, especially older people and those in our communities who are already very lonely. We are fearful about our own health, the health of our families and friends. Our basic needs are being threatened. We are fearful that we will run out of toilet paper, food and other essential items.
At the individual, family and community level we have been given plenty of information about what steps we need to take to stay physically safe and free of the virus, and we must adhere to this information in order to prevent the curve from rising and to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual with their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to their community (WHO, 2014). This definition is being challenged in our communities right now.
We have been asked to participate in social distancing or isolation, which is critical, but for many it will be harmful to their mental health and wellbeing. Little has been said about how we can protect our mental health and wellbeing in this crisis.
5 Basic Needs
Survival is a physiological need: e.g. the need for sufficient food, safe shelter and safety from harm. Ask yourself honestly, what do I really need to feel safe? Remember our stores are restocked daily. How can I be more conscious of those who do not have the capacity or money to get out and bulk buy?
Love and Belonging, as human beings we need to belong/feel connected to a family or community and to be accepted by our peers. This need is also being threatened as we are asked to engage in social distancing and in some cases social isolation. Challenge yourself to come up with new, safe ways to stay connected to your family and friends.
Power and Influence relates to our ability to achieve goals and to support others to achieve theirs. This is not power OVER others; it is power WITHIN ourselves and WITH others. When we are fearful, we also feel powerless. The challenge is to think about how you can use your power or influence to help your family, friends and neighbours who are struggling, especially those who are isolated or engaging in social distancing.
Freedom and Autonomy is our ability to do what we want and to have free choice. This need is being threatened as we face new social norms. The challenge is how you adapt your Freedom need to meet the new rules. Remember, the choice is yours, make good choices that give you a sense of freedom in tough times.
Fun and Learning, we all want to enjoy life and learn new skills, because this makes for an interesting life. Afterall, we only get one life, let’s not waste a second of it! Think of ways to create some fun every day. Enjoy sitting in the sunshine, go for a walk, if you can, play your favourite music or read that book you have sitting on the shelf.
Look for the opportunities in the current situation! It is in moving out of our comfort zone that we truly grow!
Consultant, Mentor, Speaker.