Your Self Care is Not Optional!

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, illustrated here, is a framework for understanding human needs for personal fulfillment. Unlike other developmental stage models, Maslow’s Hierarchy isn’t one you progress through once on your way to the top. Throughout our lives, the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid continue to be our most basic needs. 

The pandemic has challenged all of us on all the levels of this pyramid. In trying times like these, it can be tempting to think about our own self care as optional, in categories higher up on the pyramid. But, consider how this past year has impacted you personally on the lower levels of this pyramid:

  • Are you sleeping well or enough?
  • Are you experiencing financial stress?
  • Are your personal relationships under strain?
  • Have you felt isolated or lonely?
  • Are you self-medicating with alcohol, chocolate or junk food?

Now is not the time to think of your evening workout or Saturday yoga class as something extra you can give up for a while.

The self care you practice with exercise and yoga is meeting basic needs in the red and orange zones — the BASE of the pyramid. They are things we are lacking; things we need for a sense of security, safety and survival.

A little science: research points to the effect of exercise, yoga, breathwork and meditation on:

  • Decreasing the secretion of cortisol and reducing the physiological impacts of stress
  • Improving mental health overall
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Improve heart health
  • Reducing the pain of arthritis
  • Improving sleep
  • Improving lung capacity

These are ALL red and orange zone indicators for your physical and mental wellbeing—things you need. 

So, if you’re thinking that these practices are something you don’t have time for or can’t prioritize, we hope you can shift your thinking to see these practices as vital to your most basic needs. Know that your time in the gym or on the mat is well spent to support your basic physical and mental wellbeing!