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Identify Your Basic Needs: A Guide to Discovering What You Need to Thrive

A woman watering flowers coming out of another person's head in a nurturing way

When I ask you to identify your basic needs, what comes to mind?



What else?

While food and water are both necessary things to live, they do not encompass everything you need to thrive.

Food and water are necessities. But what gives your life meaning? What do you need in order to feel a sense of emotional and physical wellness?

It is easy for us to set our needs on the backburner. Unless we need it to survive (food and water) it can be easy to neglect. And lets be honest - even food and water are easy to neglect sometimes.

Having a list of your basic needs makes it easy to assess where you are neglecting yourself and gives you a blueprint to turn it around.

Two girls running down a gravel road surrounded by woods

My own basic needs list looks like this:

  • food that makes my body feel good

  • movement that makes my body feel good

  • hydration

  • adequate sleep

  • maintained personal hygiene

  • spend time outside

  • nurture my brain i.e. brain stuff (reading, writing, creating, etc.)

Why Should You Identify Your Basic Needs?

Identifying your basic needs is important for several reasons:

  • Self-awareness: Identifying your basic needs can help you become more self-aware. You can gain a better understanding of what you need to feel fulfilled and content in your life.

  • Improved decision-making: When you know your basic needs, you can make better decisions that align with those needs. You can prioritize activities and experiences that fulfill your needs and avoid those that don't.

  • Better communication: When you know your basic needs, you can communicate them clearly to others. This can help you build stronger relationships and avoid misunderstandings. If you don't know what you need, how can you expect others to know?

  • Reduced stress: Meeting your basic needs can reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing. When your needs are met, you are less likely to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or unhappy.

  • Increased productivity: When your basic needs are met, you can focus better and be more productive. You are less likely to be distracted by unfulfilled needs. Let's be honest, how productive are you if you aren't getting enough sleep?

Overall, identifying your basic needs can help you live a more fulfilling and balanced life. It can help you prioritize what's most important to you and make better decisions that align with your values and goals.

How Do You Identify Your Basic Needs?

  1. Start with the essentials: what are your basic physical needs: food, water, shelter? What do you need for survival?

  2. What are your social needs? Humans are social creatures, and social needs are an important part of our overall wellbeing. Consider your need for social connection, belonging, and companionship. This will look different for everyone, especially in the neurodivergent community. One person may need a few close friends they stay in contact with, while another person may just want to feel a sense of community without the commitment required by close friendships.

  3. What would your self-actualization needs look like? This includes things like personal growth, and creativity. I love learning, so brain stuff has to be on my basic needs list. I feel unfulfilled and aimless if I'm not feeding my brain regularly.

  4. Reflect on what makes you happy: Another way to identify your basic needs is to reflect on what makes you happy. What activities or experiences bring you joy and fulfillment? These are activities that you do just for the joy of doing them. I need to get out in nature and hang out with trees regularly. I don't do this for a purpose, I do it because it makes me happy and keeps me grounded. If I don't do this regularly I feel as aimless and crappy as I do if I'm not getting enough sleep.

A person relaxing in a hammock with a book

By taking these steps, you can identify your basic needs and work towards meeting them. Remember that your needs may change over time, and it's important to regularly reassess and adjust as needed.

Now What?

Once you've identified your basic needs, it's time to address whether or not you are honoring those basic needs.

If you are feeling crappy look at this list like a check list.

  1. Did you get enough sleep?

  2. How's your water intake?

  3. Have you touched any grass lately?

If the answer is no to anything on your list, go do it. I bet you'll feel better afterwards.

Write this list down and stick it where it can be easy to reference. I have mine on a whiteboard above my desk.

A person writing with a cup of tea

What's on your list? Let us know in the comment section below.

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