Back to Basics for Good Mental Health

Back to Basics for Good Mental Health

Aug 10, 2020

Mental Health, Family Counseling

Mental health symptoms often arise when our basic and psychological needs are not being met sufficiently. Focus your attention on these needs and you will see improvements in your mental and physical health! Let’s get back to the basics!



As human beings we all have certain basic needs that must be met to insure our survival.

 Basic Needs to Survive


If our basic needs are not being met we move into a state of panic or crisis. This could be obvious like panic attacks, resorting to violence, or more subtle like headaches or fatigue.



 basic need -air

Support your breath by:


  • Slow down your breath and be mindful. Practice triangle breathing, click here to learn more.
  • Exercise to increase your heart rate, improve circulation, and strengthen your lungs.
  • Change air filters in your home and automobiles as recommended.
  • Spend time outdoors in nature. Trees clean the air!
  • Never impede someone else’s breathing.



 basic need - water

Get enough water by:

  • Know how much you should consume by your weight and age. Click here for calculator.
  • Test your home water to make sure it is clean.
  • Use water filtration systems.
  • Try to avoid drinking out of plastic bottles which can contain harmful chemicals. Using glass or stainless steel is best.
  • If you have a headache, try drinking a large glass of water and see if that helps.  You may be mildly dehydrated.



basic need - sleep

Get enough sleep by:

  • Figure out how much sleep to get by your age: Infants = 12-16, toddlers = 11-14, preschoolers = 10-13, grade-schoolers = 9-12, teens = 8-10, and adults = 7-9
  • Create a sleep routine. Wake up and go to bed within an hour of the same time every day.
  • Make your bedroom and bed a comfortable place that support good rest.
  • Avoid devices 2 hours before bedtime.
  • If you find yourself having ruminating thoughts, try turning those worries or thoughts into blessings, wishes, or prayers.



basic need - food

Make good meal choices by:

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and proteins.
  • Limit or avoid processed foods, artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats, and sugars.
  • Skipping meals, consuming caffeine, or excess sugar intake all increase our stress hormone levels of cortisol.
  • Become a food label reader! Pay special attention to the ingredients. If you don’t know what it is or can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it!
  • Discuss with your doctor about running tests to determine if you have any deficiencies that could be corrected through diet or supplementation.



 basic need - shelter

Support your shelter needs by:


  • Wearing proper attire based on the climate and weather.
  • Make your home into a comfortable, peaceful place you enjoy being.
  • If you do not feel safe in your home, contact 2-1-1 for support resources.
  • Volunteer or donate to organizations and causes that support housing security for all.




Once our basic needs are met, we can focus on psychological needs. These needs help us to explore our exponential potential, create fulfilling and meaningful lives, thrive, and contribute to society! Having our psychological needs met also functions as a source of resiliency so that we are able to manage adversity and stress in our lives. Based on the work of Alfred Adler, to thrive, all human beings need:

 Psychological Needs



 psych need - security

  • Learn about your attachment style and how it impacts you in interpersonal relationships through therapy or reading.
  • Get involved and advocate for equal rights for all. Say something if you notice something that is unfair.
  • Connect to your spiritual sense or a religious community.
  • Practice activities that support connecting with your body, mind, and spirit in expressive ways such as dance, art, and music.
  • Practice healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to say no.
  • Create predictability and order especially for children.
  • Practice healthy touch and holding with those you feel safe.



 psych need - significance

  • Seek productive ways to feel significant, not destructive.
  • Question the kind of life you want to have and evaluate, plan, and take action. Be able to name your life purpose and give meaning to your life.
  • Practice mindfulness and being in the moment. To notice you’re fully alive right now.
  • Find someone or something to nurture such as a child, plant, or pet.
  • Be vocal when others do things that you admire or find to be valuable contributions.
  • Recognize others for their unique gifts and what makes them special and different.
  • Be a choice maker. Use your personal power to exercise choice in your life. Be accountable to your choices.



 psych need - belonging

  • Listen to others. Try to understand them. Notice them and recognize them.
  • Invite and include others into conversations, activities, and play.
  • Get involved with new groups and hobbies.
  • Practice kindness with yourself and others. Smile and greet strangers when out and about.
  • Seek out connection. Volunteer. Join a support group.
  • Ask for support when you need it.









If all of our basic and psychological needs are met we find security, significance, and belonging which leads to the healthiest society for all. Be intentional about supporting your body, mind, spirit, and others during challenging times. Here at FamilyMeans we work to support you in getting your basic and psychological needs met through Counseling & Therapy, Financial Solutions, Caregiving & Aging, and Youth Development. Better is possible. FamilyMeans is following the recommendations of the CDC and local authorities to maintain safety. Please join us in following those recommendations.

We are all in this together!



Written By Cori Hildebrandt, LPC (WI), LPPC (MN)