I stuffed up a bit this week. 

Finally, after two long weeks of isolation without our little Harper-narper, we were able to head up to the country and get her back from nannies house. During “iso” Court and I had been enjoying a luxurious abundance of time to use it as we pleased. No one to answer to but each other. I knew that getting harper back meant a little more structure to our days. We needed to set time aside to play and spend quality time together, as well continuing the things we regularly need to do. I wasn’t too concerned, Harper is fantastic most of the time and she is a lot of fun to play with. But when we did get home I underestimated how much attention I needed to put into scheduling our days, I got a little overwhelmed.

Instead of planning the days a little better, I suddenly felt as though I had no time available to get my work done AND give Harper the quality time she deserves. My quick fix method was to just stop my regular routines to try and fit in these new responsibilities. I stopped journaling daily, I didn’t write a piece for the Man Up blog, I exercised less, today’s weekly blog is coming to you a day late and I didn’t allow myself the time to just stop and allow new thoughts to come in.

I am not fully back on track yet, but I have stopped and forced myself to get back on top and work on creating some new routines. But now that I have given myself a chance to stop and think, I got myself to think about our needs and what we deem essential for our health. 

“Essentials” is the buzzword at the moment. Because in terms of what is available to us, essentials are all we have access to. These available essentials are predominantly physical essentials for physical needs. Services currently available that serve our mental health… not so many. 

We have different stages of needs, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes 5 stages: Physiological, Safety & Security, Love & Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualisation. The physiological (basics for survival: food, water, shelter) and safety & security (financial, medical) needs are what our government is currently working very hard on to help provide for us. These are the physical needs we require to exist, without these needs we will struggle to survive. There is no point worrying about any other need if we can’t manage these. This is why pharmacies, hospitals, supermarkets and servo’s are deemed essential by the government. Any need beyond that the government has decided to shut down (except hairdressers and trades: because their economic worth is so high). 

What all of this means is, is that if we wish to fulfil higher needs, it is completely up to us to do so. But because everything has changed, many of those regular pathways have been compromised. We have to figure out new ways to fulfil those needs. 

The third need, Love & Belonging, refers to social connection with friends and family. The fourth, Esteem, refers to feelings of achievement, mastery and independence. When we think about all of the things we usually do on the daily to fulfil those needs: daily exercise, social interaction, quality conversation, variance in our day, journaling, brain stimulation through work or play, every and any form of social connection, we realise that when shit hits the fan / some dude smashes down an undercooked bat, these needs drop in a flash. They drop because they aren’t the priority to our human survival. They are vital to our quality of life, but not our physical survival as a race. 

These third and fourth level needs serve our psychological needs, our mental health. If you want to get through these strange times with good mental health, you need to get creative with how you achieve serving those needs, and you may even need to schedule it. 

What I am doing now is working out my day a little better. It will start with an early morning walk with Court and Harper, followed by a coffee and an online gym class with our members, then breakfast while reading or writing, then a little work, then some play time with Harper. After that I am not too sure yet, I haven’t gotten that far. I know that if I plan this a little better, I will be able to fulfil the needs I have to ensure my mental health is in check. Reading, writing, exercising, playing with Harper and having quality chats with Court are my main 5 methods to achieve this. If I want that to happen, as well as continue to work, scheduling it all in is a non negotiable. I am not usually a strict scheduler, but when it is now so easy to spend an entire day moping on the couch watching Netflix, smashing chips and ice cream and downing neat scotches, or when you have an energetic daughter craving your attention, I think it is necessary. 

It is harder at the moment to have hope and will, especially when our access to our psychological needs have been compromised. But, our ability to access these needs haven’t been lost, they have just changed a little. For example, we are so fortunate to have access to high speed internet. Not only can we now speak to our friends and family, but we can see them too! We have amazing programs like FaceTime and Zoom making it easy to still enjoy a beer with your mates. We also have so much more time available to us to organise our days with a little more structure and do what is required to fulfil our physical and psychological needs. It doesn’t take too much change, it just takes a smidgen of effort. Very worthwhile effort.

Do it.