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Your Daily Occupation: Hierarchy of Needs


It's a new week, and I hope you've begun to settle into a routine for some aspects of your day. At my house, the kids have accepted that daily chores are non-negotiable and they've quit protesting. Our family has been playing a board game every night after dinner, and we're finding comfort in that routine.

Today I want to talk about Abraham Maslow. He is a psychologist and his most famous work is Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs." In a nutshell, the hierarchy is a pyramid comprised of 5 categories of basic human needs, and the premise is that your lower level needs must be satisfied before you can move up to the next level. The lowest level involves things like food and shelter, and the second level is safety and security. 

We can use this to help us understand why regular, ordinary tasks are difficult, and simple joy and happiness are in short supply. We're worried, and that's normal. We are staying home because it's not safe to be around people right now, so of course it's difficult to think about becoming a better person! But there's hope...

This situation is temporary! We don't have to be stuck in survival mode, because we all have experiences at the top levels of the pyramid that we can fall back on. Here are some strategies for rising above just meeting your basic needs:

1. Reframe the situation: Instead of saying "I'm stuck at home," tell yourself "my home is safe" or "I get to spend all day with my favorite people."

2. Do things that reliably bring you joy, happiness, or fun. Look to family, friend, or group rituals from your recent past: Sunday dinner, movie night, date night, happy hour and recreate them in your home, using Zoom to bring in other people. 

3. Look to your hobbies: Reading, crafting, gardening, etc. that you've enjoyed in the past. 

4. Take care of your little kid inside: Today I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to give myself a little comfort. Have favorite foods, tickle fights, color with crayons, or eat ice cream for lunch.

And in case none of this is useful, well... Here are some baby goats in pajamas!

Be well!


About the Author

Melissa Christopher, OT/L is an Occupational Therapist with more than twenty years of experience and the founder of Stellar Therapy Services. Stellar Therapy Services provides therapy staffing solutions for school districts, home health facilities, hospitals, and many other settings needing Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and other therapy and healthcare professionals.

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