What are your needs?

COVID-19 has many people in the dental industry reeling.

Just like the broader community, within our industry there are a range of responses to this challenging time, from low-level to high-level anxiety.

Understanding what is happening within your mind can often help in the management and reduction of the anxiety that you may be feeling.

To assist this understanding, I have found  myself returning to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who developed a theory that our psychological health is predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority order or steps, culminating in self-actualisation.

Maslow portrayed human needs in the shape of a pyramid, with the most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom. Of course, most of the world’s population find themselves at the bottom levels. In order for you to arise to the next level, each previous level’s needs must be first satisfied.

As you can see from the diagram below, prior to COVID-19, you were likely to have been functioning from psychological and self-fulfillment needs. You were working in a stable job with regular income to ensure you maintain your shelter and food supply. You took for granted that your basic needs of survival were satisfied for the foreseeable future. This allowed you to live life focusing on your relationships, your career and achieving your full potential.

However, the impact of society’s response to COVID-19 has shifted your needs from these psychological and self-actualisation needs to the more basic physiological and safety needs.

As individuals and as a society we are finding ourselves in the unfamiliar situation of trying to re-establish a stability in our lives that we have long taken for granted.

The threat to our safety needs can affect our perceptions. If you find yourself with feelings of anxiety over the current situation, shifting any fear-based perceptions of your physiological and safety needs can help.

For example,

SHIFT FROM: My income has ceased and I don’t know when it will be reinstated.

TO: The Government is providing me with JobSeeker/JobKeeper income and deferring my major expenses of mortgage/rent. It will be tight, but I do have food and shelter.

SHIFT FROM: Who knows how long this situation will go on for?

TO: Nothing stays the same. This situation will end.

SHIFT FROM: All my plans for the future are ruined.

TO: I will adjust my plans and return to a path of achieving my goals once this current situation has passed.

SHIFT FROM: This crisis is making me feel anxious and powerless.

TO: This crisis is making me feel uncomfortable. However, I have not lost my ability to improve my environment to one that is better. I will make a list of 5 things I can do to be powerful in this moment.

COVID-19 is our ‘now’ but it is not our ‘forever’. Take steps to secure your physiological and safety needs and look forward to reinstating your plans, or implementing new plans for the future when the time is right. And feel excited that your new plans will be even better with the deep appreciation and gratitude from the lessons, challenges and insights that we can all share because of COVID-19.