Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, commonly represented as a pyramid, has physiological and safety concerns at its base.
These basic concerns include food, shelter, and freedom from violence, and it makes sense that people need these existential needs met in order to live well.
But it’s easy to focus on planning for everything else except the basics at the bottom of the wellness pyramid.
For years, Britain’s junior doctors have protested their working conditions. They conducted a strike this spring to challenge excessively long shifts and the risk of harming patients with fatigue-fueled decisions.
Like all too many entrepreneurs, parents, and academics, medics are, as Angel NP recently said, doing “too much for too many with too little. And running on fumes.”
I’ve joked before about the United States being a workaholic’s paradise but our incidence of chronic and so-called lifestyle diseases tells me it’s not in fact funny. The constant wear of overscheduling and sleep deprivation has physiological consequences as much as it also affects people’s efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction.
As you determine your goals for this coming year, keep your physiological and safety needs in mind.
How can you plan for a solid morning meal before your work day starts? What could you take off your do list so that you can dedicate time to physical conditioning? How can you budget or redesign your evenings so that good sleep is guaranteed?
Just as the pyramid is the most stable shape because of its base, our quality of life rests on whether we can secure the fundamentals of physiological well-being: not only for ourselves but also for each other.