Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Learn More
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Learn More

How to Maintain Basic Psychological Needs While Social Distancing

American psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in 1943 called “A Theory of Motivation,” in which he suggests that all human beings require certain needs to be met. He defines five basic needs:

  1. Physiological (food, water, shelter etc.)
  2. Safety (to live without fear of endangerment)
  3. Love and belongingness
  4. Esteem (both for oneself and of their peers)
  5. Self-actualization (or fulfillment)

For many people, these five needs are greatly impacted and threatened by the social distancing/shelter-in-place recommendations given to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Luckily, there are ways to fulfill those needs during this crisis while still maintaining social distancing.

Embrace technology

Social distancing and sheltering in place can feel very lonely and isolating. Now is the time to engage in social media. Engage with others by commenting on friends’ and family posts or pictures. Take this time to learn how to use Facetime or Skype. Face-to-face communication provides a feeling of social connection and promotes happiness. Studies show that face-to-face interaction even acts like a ‘vitamin’ for depression.

Smile more

Research has proven when you smile your brain releases hormones that increase happiness and decrease stress. In a recent article on NBC’s Better web page, Nicole Spector writes, “… the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.” As a bonus, smiling is contagious through a mirroring effect, so it can help more than just you.

Pick up a phone

With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, more and more of the population is social distancing and being required to shelter-in-place. Pick up the phone and talk to a relative that you have not had a chance to catch up within a while. Many people are alone without other family members to keep them company. Reach out to them to help them feel important. This will fulfill esteem needs for you both.

Write letters or emails

Shawn Achor suggests in his book Big Potential that writing a two-minute positive email or letter to someone produces happiness for the recipient and often results in the recipient responding with an equivalent email, thereby producing happiness for you, too. Spread positivity!

Play games

Implement game night if you have others with you, or you may play online games with loved ones far away. Consider games like Yahtzee or Words with Friends, app-based games that allow both players to take turns.

Go outside

Being quarantined doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Make sure to take some time to soak up the sun because its rays help create Vitamin D in the body. It’s also a great idea to have a virtual lunch or picnic with friends.

Stay informed

There is no better way to maintain a feeling of safety than to stay informed. Make sure the information you receive is coming from a legitimate source. In this time of COVID-19 crisis, stay up-to-date with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Axxess also has great COVID-19 resources and other topics in our Help Center, as well as built into our system.

Quarantining at home is essential in keeping others safe from the coronavirus, but understandably has effects of its own. Try a few of the tips listed with your family and friends to make the most of social distancing.


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