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Life

The big three in our hierarchy of needs

If you’re struggling with tiredness, low mood, poor discipline, or stress, the solution may lie in the big three. Sleep, food and exercise.

Maslows hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist who was best known for his hierarchy of needs. It highlights the basic things we need to function as humans before we can feel love or be in a place that we can fully achieve our potential.

Maslow states that we cannot move up the pyramid, until we have satisfied the foundational level to a certain extent. The principle being the more fully these tiers are filled, the better quality the life will be. The top tier of self-actualization is living to your full creative potential.

The big three maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramid

At the very bottom of the pyramid we have physiological needs; food, water, warmth, rest. These are our most basic needs. Similar to an actual pyramid, the entire structure can’t be strong if the foundation is weak. Maslow wasn’t interested in all of our problems but more so how we can achieve our full potential, so let’s look at how we can do that.

What should I focus on?

The commons struggles with tiredness, low mood, poor discipline, and/or stress, are so unbelievably common, that we have accepted them as realities of life. The life tax we pay for having a full schedule. Maybe it’s as a result of time management with a young family or the stresses of working harder and longer hours to maintain a quality of life you want/feel that you should attain. This all comes at a cost and eventually it will catch up with you. This is where the big three come in.

Sleep

You should re-order your priorities to ensure you’re getting a good nights rest. Based on recommendations, you’re looking at 7-9 hours sleep. From here, reflect if you need more/less depending on your health and activity level. We read statistics like this and take it as a hard and fast rule, whilst not considering our own situation. This means looking at your own situation with unbiased eyes. Cut down on your social activities or late night Netflix binging to make this happen if you want a better quality of life.

With big players Elon Musk and Arnie glorifying sleeping less to attain success, it can be tempting to think we are fine running on 5 hours and 10 cups of coffee. How tired do you feel day to day? Do you wake up ready to get out of bed or wanting to hit snooze? Is it difficult to stay focused? It should be clear answering these questions if you need more sleep.

Food

After sleep, how are you eating? This is the fuel for your body. If you owned a Porsche, you wouldn’t fill it up with the cheapest gas from a dodgy gas station. If you’re eating burgers from cheap fast food places regularly, your performance will reflect that too.

I wrote recently about the basics of weight loss and eating healthily. This is coming from someone who has always struggled to find a balance. 80% of your diet should be fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. That’s it. The other 20% can be ice cream or chocolate. This needs to be a priority. Your brain cannot reach its full potential on poor diet and sleep (let’s not get caught up in naming an outlier who defies this, you are not Elon Musk. If you are, hey Elon!)

Exercise

Are you moving enough? Getting your heart rate up, performing some form of resistance exercises with weights? This can start off with walking, swimming, boxing, whatever, but this has a direct knock on effect on your eating and sleeping.

The most commons killers and health risks are all reduced by being conscious of these 3 factors. Heart disease, stroke, back problems, cancers. It won’t eliminate the risk but will greatly reduce your chances. In the same way you start saving money early for retirement, start looking after your body and brain in the same way. Do you want to spend all that hard earned cash on health procedures that could have been prevented by living better?

Synergy

The big three are all closely linked, as is everything in your life. The temptation to reach for coffee, supplements or starving yourself are short term fixes. Short term fixes are not sustainable. When has a rushed DIY job ever lasted without needing to get a proper tradesperson in the end?