Our Blog Maslow Wellbeing and Feeling out of Sorts

‘Not feeling myself at the moment’, ‘feeling out-of-sorts’ and ‘I’m fine’ (whilst behaviour suggests otherwise) are three common phrases we have heard from friends, family, and clients since March 2020.

We have also said these words myself on many occasions whilst struggling to understand what is happening to my usual positive thoughts.

We wanted to share some of our observations in the hope they can help others. Whilst there are many theories, research and thinking on human behaviour two theories made sense and allowed me to explore my mood, behaviour, and internal self-talk.

Traditional Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow, the fundamental needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and safety.  

Maslow believes that these fundamentals need to be in place to allow people to move up the pyramid to find self-esteem, accomplishments, and self-fulfillment. 

The pandemic has impacted the most basic and essential human needs and people have felt vulnerable and exposed without them. 

Basic foods out of stock, people fighting over toilet rolls, being locked down (not allowed out) and not able to physically see our loved ones, a global recession and hardship for businesses.  The media outpouring of negative stories has impacted us all to different degrees. 

When the basics are not there to offer strong foundations, it can be harder to grow and strive towards situations and opportunities that help us to reach our peak performance and satisfaction levels.

Images, News Stories & Experiences

The media images, endless negative headlines, discussions and even conflict with friends and the uncertainty of the pandemic can impact our wellbeing and happiness. 

Let us look at four important quadrants of wellbeing and apply Maslow and the current situation to help review why we maybe ‘feeling out-of-sorts, feeling stressed or overwhelmed.  

Often, we can slip into a negative cycle without realising it. 

Do any of these resonate with you?

Mental Health 

  • Worried about income, paying bills and making ends meet impacting sleep patterns. 
  • Brain and body not getting enough rest to reboot – safety is a Maslow fundamental.
  • Concerned about the health and happiness of friend and families drains our mental energy.
  • Dwelling on negative thoughts without logically dealing with them.
  • Low and negative mental energy makes us feel overwhelmed, lethargic, and down.

Physical Health

  • Interrupted sleep patterns through worry/concern, our physical energy– sleep is a Maslow fundamental.
  • Alcohol intake increases, feeling tired and sluggish the next day.
  • More sitting down working from home, being in one location and having less movement, makes us tired.
  • Less physical activity impacts how we process our thoughts and ability to deal with stress.

Emotional Stability

  • Find it harder to stay balanced and logical.
  • Emotional intelligence is harder to maintain.
  • Experiencing stronger emotions more regularly.
  • Less patience with others.
  • Feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to bounce back from situations.

Connection and Purpose

  • Not able to see our loved ones causes emotional upset – love and belonging is a Maslow fundamental.
  • Working from home from long periods of time and missing the energy of work colleagues.
  • Increased feeling of loneliness and/or isolation.
  • Holding back from talking about feelings with work colleagues and family, bottling up feelings.
  • Hobbies and interests look and feel different resulting in lack of expression or release.

An important step in changing our mindset and encouraging positive actions is recognising when we are in a negative cycle.  Listing out our worries and concerns can help review them more logically – scribbling out those that we have no control over and withdraw valuable energy from thinking about them.  Focusing on what you can change rather than what you cannot.  

Hints & Tips

Mental Health

  • Talk to your manager if you are worried about your job.  You cannot control the “what if’s”, focus on the here and now.
  • Recognise the tone of internal self-talk.  Be aware of negative v’s positive balance.  Make a conscious effort to re-phrase thoughts to sound more positive and hopeful.
  • Turn off the news and take a break from social media if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or feeling low.  
  • When feeling overwhelmed, focus on hour-by-hour rather than ‘what if’s’ of the future.  
  • Ask friends/colleagues to change the subject if you don’t have the energy to talk about the pandemic or doom and gloom of media headlines.

Physical Health

  • Where possible, walk, move, or use exercise to help think through the thoughts in our heads.  Fresh air and moving around can be an effective reflection technique.
  • Every 90 minutes get up and move! This pumps blood to the brain.
  • Drink plenty of water – keeping hydrated and flush away toxins makes us feel more energetic (feeling fuller means less snacks).
  • Rather than reaching for sugary or fast burning carbohydrates, plan meals and snacks.  Prepping to avoid falling into the ‘don’t have time’ snack trap.
  • Keep an eye on sleep patterns, winding down at bedtime and switching off tech, calms the brain and gets you ready to sleep.

Emotional Stability

  • Put your energy into what you can change and influence rather than what you cannot.
  • Keep an eye on situations or people that are challenging your patience levels.  Make a conscious effort to watch your tone of voice and reactions.  Think and reflect rather than responding without filtering.
  • Cut yourself some slack – it’s ok not to be ok.  Keep an eye on how often you are having low days and reflect on the internal self-talk – it may need switching to positive.
  • We are living through uncertain times, which can be unsettling.  We’re all going through this together, together we will support each other in coming through it.  Have faith that whilst change is all around us, it will settle down.

Connection and Purpose

  • Even when you do not feel like it, try to socialise through meetings, calls and walks with friends.  The energy from friends and family can help lift your mood.
  • Try reaching out to others and express how you are feeling.  Sharing our thoughts and hearing a more non-emotional response can offer new perspectives.
  • Look for other interests to occupy your mind and time.  Having a new purpose, hobby or interest offers renewed energy and focus.
  • Keep an eye on friends, family, and colleagues.  Be persistent if you feel they are using the ‘I’m fine’ response when they are acting differently.  You could be the person they need at the right time. 

My wise business partner Tracy said, “we are all in the same river, but in different boats with individual challenges”.   We may have different ways of coping and dealing with the current situations, but we are all human and at the mercy of our thoughts.   Be nice, be kind, be patient and look after yourself and others.    For more support on wellbeing, drop us an email – hello@fifthelementsolutions.com


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Our Blog Maslow Wellbeing and Feeling out of Sorts

‘Not feeling myself at the moment’, ‘feeling out-of-sorts’ and ‘I’m fine’ (whilst behaviour suggests otherwise) are three common phrases we have heard from friends, family, and clients since March 2020.