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Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Living in the basement

I’ve been quiet. Its been months since I last wrote a post. I had a period of intense activity immediately after the lockdown was enforced, scrambling to take my services online, giving my social media aesthetic an overhaul and then I slumped. I haven’t written anything because I felt like I had nothing new to say. I haven’t even picked up a book and read, so how could I write? Actually that’s not true, I have tried to read on multiple occasions, but each time I get a few lines in before putting the book down. I just haven’t been able to focus.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

And why is that? The answer is because I’m living in the basement. So what do I mean by that? Well, this comes back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. … From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation.

maslow's hierarchy of needs

You can learn more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs here.

If we subscribe to the idea that our needs form a hierarchy (they don’t necessarily always work like that but it can be used as a basis of understanding) then in this current environment our physiological needs are being met. Hopefully, you have a roof over your head, a place to sleep and you have food and water.

Let’s now look higher up the pyramid to Safety. Do you feel financially secure, do you have good health, are you safe from illness and injury? For many of us the answers to those questions is no. On a worldwide level we’re living under the threat of a virus we can’t see. We’re scared. But we can’t operate under permanent fear so we start to compartmentalise our fear. There are times when we feel safe, usually when we’re at home, and other times when our fear or stress escalates, usually when we have to go out in public to areas with heavy human footfall.

When we look at the next level ‘Love/Belonging’ which includes;

  • Friendships
  • Romantic attachments
  • Family
  • Social groups
  • Community groups
  • Churches and religious organisations

Its easy to see why so many of us are staying in the lower levels of the pyramid, or the basement of our emotional houses. We’re not able to socialise in normal ways, interactions with loved ones outside our homes is, for the main part, carried out online and tensions are high within households as relationships feel the strain of the intensity of 24/7 focus.

If you haven’t written a masterpiece during the lockdown, chill out. That level of creativity only starts to happen in the higher levels of the pyramid or, if you like, the top floors of your emotional house. The same goes for learning new skills or anything that requires personal development.



How do I get out of the basement?

Let me say first, you don’t have to. Its ok to stay in the basement and ride this out. But, if you do feel like you’d like to take some steps to feeling a little better my advice is this;

  • Keep a 5 minute journal: Take a moment to write down a few lines of how you feel each day. Sometimes just writing something down can take the burden of action away.
  • Practice yoga: Well no surprises there! Of course I was going to mention yoga. Get your body moving a little each day, stretch, boost your endorphins. You can book an online class here.
  • Practice Yoga Nidra: Do what now you ask? Yoga Nidra is a guided relaxation that takes place as you lie down in savasana. Just 20 minutes can be enough to help reset chemical levels in your brain that lead to more positive outlook. You can learn more about Yoga Nidra here (you can also book an online class here).


If you liked this article you may also enjoy reading How and When to find your yoga mat

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