Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Uncertainty. This is the universal truth for most of us right now. Uncertainty about world events and how they will unfold, ultimately affecting us on a personal, daily level. You may be able to name exactly what is causing you anxiety, or you may simply be sensitive to the collective feel of world energy right now. No doubt, this is a unique time, causing change to your routines and status quo. As always, we have factors we cannot control and factors we can control. We each have unique stress triggers, different core needs at different times, and varied resources and support available.
I have been taking an online art therapy course and the most recent lesson centered around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and while it’s not new to me, it was a relevant reminder of why we might be feeling so personally and collectively threatened. At the most basic level, we all have similar core needs. Typically these needs vary for individuals based on personal circumstances, but right now many are facing either real or perceived threats to the three most fundamental needs; physiological, safety, and belonging. Physiological needs include air, water, food, shelter, sleep, etc. Safety needs include employment, financial security, resources, health, etc. Love and belonging needs include relationships, intimacy, a sense of connection, and family.
Take a moment to assess which of your personal needs are unmet right now.
Is your needs assessment congruent with your personal reality or has it been aligned with a perceived group-think mentality?
If you are genuinely lacking, recognize and extend compassion to yourself for how truly distressing this is.
You are doing the best you can during very difficult circumstances.
If your assessment leads you to a place of understanding that your needs are actually met and you are mistaking the collective consciousness for your own, then you have the luxury of redirecting your focus. It can help to begin with the end in mind. How would you like to use the gift of time you have been granted? I recommend identifying your individual core needs and developing a plan centered around meeting those needs.
I will share my needs, resources, triggers, routine, and plan for pulling myself back into focus with you to give you some ideas to get started…
Identify Your Personal Core Needs
Get fresh air daily even if the weather is not “ideal”
Keep my son engaged in quality experiences
Contribute something of value to my online community
Make something physical most days (a card, something to eat, etc.)
Take at least three 20 minute movement breaks daily
Talk to one friend most days
Maintain a clean and clutter-free physical space
Take screen breaks even if it means not having a video chat if feeling digitally burned out
Identify Your Resources
Our family income has luckily remained intact
There are lots of nice places to walk nearby
I have a curated collection of art supplies at home
I have the infrastructure in place to deliver digital content
Identify Your Triggers
Going to the grocery store
Too much media
Consuming rather than creating
“Helpful” messages about what I “should” be doing with my time
Trying to predict outcomes
Too much device time
Anything that doesn’t have an underlying message of “trust yourself”
Conversations not focused on ownership of feelings
Create a Flexible Routine
Use your core needs to set the backdrop for each time block you allocate
Decide on the frequency of a time block
Try to alternate stillness and movement
Try to build in environmental changes (room, clothing, etc.)
Make a conscious choice to NOT include anything you do not value
Create a visual reminder of your routine using a weekly planner
Create a Plan for Navigating Triggers
Recognize I am triggered (breathing, mood, muscle tension, thoughts)
Disengage from the trigger as soon as possible
Take time to pause and reflect before resuming routine
Create a “toolkit” of grounding activities (music playlist, favorite meditation video, safe space)
You may find that this time of less business is, in many ways, quite healthy. You have the time to pause and access how you would like to go forward with your life. You may develop a special knack for recognizing when you are in your flow state, driven by meeting your underlying needs or simply just busy. You may become less tolerant of accepting business in place of a pleasant, productive effort. You might just recognize how disconnected you have been feeling from yourself and how you don’t want to go forward with that same disconnect.
Yours In Health,