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  • Alainnah Knight

Meeting Basic Needs: The Relationship Between Basic Needs and Mental Health

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Meeting our basic needs are fundamental to self-actualization, or meeting one's potential, but what are those basic needs? And how the heck do we meet them? Let's discuss Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the importance of meeting basic needs for your well-being.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs in neutral colors

What Is A Basic Need?

Our physiological needs, which are air, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep are the first level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. These are based on basic survival needs and are very important to reach self-actualization. When we think of these basic survival needs, we might think "easy peasy," but how are you meeting each of these basic needs?


"Well isn't air everywhere?" Yes. But what about fresh air? What about intentionally stepping outside to breathe in the fresh air? Maybe you live in a big city with lots of smog. Are you spending time seeking out fresh air to breathe in? Fresh air carries elements that maintain healthy lungs, protect your heart, and improve your immune system. How are you intentionally meeting your basic need for air?


Having clean water to drink, cook, and clean with is also a basic need. How much water are you drinking a day? Do you have access to fresh water? It is way too easy to go throughout the day without drinking the amount of water that our body needs. How is your water intake daily? What would it be like to increase your water intake? Take note of how your body feels when you hydrate more!


Having nutritious food accessible to you is another basic need. When we are fueling our body with nutrients daily, we are providing our body with the energy it needs in order to function. How are you fueling your body every day? Are you skipping meals? Are you eating at least one nutritious meal every day?


Shelter is not just a roof over your head, shelter is fundamental for physical and emotional safety and well-being. A shelter can provide refuge from natural disasters, disasters caused by

humans, and violence. If there are feelings of not being safe in the home (physically, mentally, etc.) this basic need is not being met.


Having clothing (and appropriate clothing for the weather) is another basic need. Clothing offers protection from extreme weather, safety, and a sense of self. A warm jacket in the winter, a comfortable pair of shoes to walk around in, and feeling comfortable and confident in those clothes are just a few examples of meeting your basic need for clothing.


Getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night is very important to your physical and mental

well-being, which is why sleep is also a basic need. While you are sleeping, your body is maintaining a healthy brain function and replenishing physically as well. When we do not get a sufficient amount of sleep, we raise our risk for heart disease, stroke, and dementia, as well as not being able to think, learn, or function optimally throughout the day. This can also impact our emotional regulation and ability to think and feel simultaneously. How much sleep are you getting a night? Is it quality sleep?

How Do Basic Needs Impact My Mental Health?

When your basic needs are being met, your mind and body are going to be working more optimally giving you a better quality of life. Each of these basic needs plays a fundamental role in having energy, being able to regulate emotions, thinking and feeling simultaneously, having self-confidence, and overall feeling safe and respected. How are you honoring your body and its basic needs today?

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