Self-Care and the End of the Year: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

By now, all of us have heard the term “self-care.” We may have even said it under our breath to ourselves while trying to schedule in time to go to the gym or while stocking up on bath bombs. But during the last couple weeks before the New Year, exercise and bath bombs might not be cutting it. We might be experiencing anxiety about another holiday spent with family, angst about what we may or may not have accomplished in the past 12 months, or trepidation about resolutions we may want to make for the New Year. Where do we start?

First of all, start by taking care of yourself as basically as you can. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs proposes that basic needs like sleep, food, and feelings of safety have to be met before we can address higher-level needs, like feelings of belongingness or achieving intimacy. So as you’re looking for extra ways to stay grounded at this time of year, start by getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and continuing your regular routine, including moderate exercise and/or meditation.

Also identify what makes you feel safe and secure on a fundamental level. If you’re experiencing increased levels of anxiety or depression, try to identify your own hierarchy of needs, and start simple. For example, it’s possible that your stress around planning a holiday party is emerging only because you want everything to go off without a hitch. However, if the stress is excessive and you’re having trouble coping with it, do a self-evaluation, starting from the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. Will this party require you to over-extend yourself financially or physically, which would cause your physiological needs to go unmet? Also, are your safety needs being met: do you feel 100% emotionally safe around your friends or family (being able to say no when appropriate, or share your thoughts without fear of being attacked)? If your gut tells you that going forward with a holiday plan will violate your more basic needs in some way, give yourself permission to put yourself first and to do something different.

In gearing up for the final stretch of the holiday season, remember: only after having been sure to do basic self-care like sleeping and eating well, as well as having been intentional about your fundamental boundaries with others, can you really focus on the higher-level goals of belongingness, connection, or even a sense of accomplishment. So before getting your party on or sitting down to project goals for the new year, make sure your most basic needs are being met first.

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