A recipe for physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing for COVID-19 times and any time

In my last blog post, I started talking about the underlying reason why so many people are struggling during lockdown.  It’s the same reason why people were having problems before lockdown and will continue to have problems after lockdown, even with restrictions starting to ease a bit this week.

It’s all about the ‘human givens’ – fundamental physical, psychological and emotional needs that are essential to health and wellbeing. 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I use the Human Givens approach with most of my clients.  Helping clients to consider whether any of the fundamental needs are lacking in their life can shed light on the root of their problems.  They can then often make some simple, straightforward and practical changes, which can make a big difference to their overall sense of wellbeing.

This blog post is about the ‘human givens’ needs related to relationships.

It’s not surprising that so many people have found lockdown so difficult, when so many of our innate human needs are to do with our connection to other people.  We are social animals.  In days gone by, belonging to a social group and having people around us who we could depend on, really was a matter of life or death.  When hairy mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers roamed around, humans were extremely vulnerable to becoming a wild beast’s lunch.  Times and our local fauna may have changed, but that fundamental need for relationships remains.

No wonder so many people have felt anxious and depressed during lockdown, when our fundamental needs for connection and interaction have been difficult to meet.

Human givens categorises those needs as follows:

Attention – there is a fundamental human need both to give and receive attention.  If we didn’t have that need to receive attention, we wouldn’t experience negative emotions of loneliness, or anger and resentment when we don’t feel listened to or we feel overlooked.  Equally, we feel good when we’re doing the listening and there is a genuine exchange of attention.

Intimacy – In addition to giving and receiving attention, a deeper need is that for emotional and physical intimacy.  In human givens terms, it’s about having at least one person with whom we can share our dreams and problems, who accepts us as we are, who we feel close to.

It’s worth noting that people have different levels of need for attention and intimacy and that’s been evident in how people have reacted to lockdown.  You might know some people, who have relished having to stay at home with time for more solitary pursuits and not having to socialise.  They are the introverts, who get their energy from being on their own.

The extroverts, on the other hand, who get their energy from being with other people, haven’t been faring so well.  They are the people, who are more likely to have got frustrated and depressed during lockdown and to have flouted the rules about not visiting people in other households.  Enforced isolation is extremely hard for them.  Now that lockdown has been eased slightly, the extroverts will have been the first ones out of the door meeting up with people they haven’t seen for weeks.  One person at a time, I hope.

Wherever you are on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, maintaining healthy relationships is vital at any time.  While some degree of lockdown still remains, it’s important to make use of the means we have to keep connected to friends and family.  Contact by phone, Facetime, Zoom (other video call providers are available) may not be quite the same as being physically in the same space together, but still meets the need for attention.

As with all the ‘human givens’ needs, we are responsible for meeting our own needs.  Don’t expect other people to know intuitively when you’re feeling lonely or low and would love some attention.  If you realise that your need for attention isn’t being met, why not pick up the phone to someone you haven’t seen during lockdown?  Why not contact someone you haven’t seen for even longer than that, even someone you haven’t been in touch with for years?

I know that, for some people, this is a difficult thing to do.  One of the main kinds of anxiety I help clients overcome is social anxiety.  Clients with social anxiety usually have all kinds of negative thoughts about what other people might think about them, that other people will judge them, that people won’t like them, or that they might say the wrong thing.  If that’s you, please don’t let your social anxiety get in the way of you meeting your needs for attention and intimacy.  Help is available.  Please contact me.

Please don’t let your social anxiety get in the way of you meeting your needs for attention and intimacy.  Please book a free 30-minute phone consultation to get some strategies on how to deal with it and how hypnotherapy can help – phone 0208 546 2122 or e-mail .

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