What Do I Need? Reconnecting to Your Personal Needs

It had been a long day at work, and I had been to two meetings after. As I was driving home, I suddenly realized that my thoughts were racing. My head was aching. I felt awful. “What is wrong with me? Today was fine. I got a lot done. I enjoyed those meetings. Why do I feel this way?”

Does this sound familiar? Often in the busyness and the business of our days, we become disconnected from our bodies and our needs. When we finally get some time to breathe, our bodies will start yelling to get our attention.

My question, “Why do I feel this way?” was the key to unlocking some important information about myself. When I am feeling super crummy, I have learned to go through a quick mental “Needs” checklist and see what I need. Here is what I ask:

  • When was the last time I ate something with protein?
  • How much water have I drunk today?
  • Did I actually take my lunch and breaks at work?
  • Do I have enough oxygen?
  • Do I need to go the bathroom?

On that day, I realized the following: I had skipped my afternoon protein bar. I hadn’t had water since lunch. I had worked through both my lunch and my breaks. The new carpet in the office was giving me a headache. I was dehydrated, hungry, and cranky from carpet hangover. No wonder my thoughts were racing. But when I got home, I didn’t have any food. My checklist showed me that I was pretty low on my priority list.

Instead of beating myself up about that, I drank some cold water, grabbed a protein bar, and headed to the store for some food. I ate dinner at 10:30 pm. There were major consequences for not putting my needs high on my priority list, including a headache, an anxiety attack, and feeling super frazzled. So I asked myself, “What did I learn?”

The next day I made sure I had two big bottles of water on my desk, protein bars, a packed lunch, and alarms in my phone for my breaks. I left the office for my lunch. We kept the windows open to air out the carpet smell and everyone felt quite a bit better. We can learn so much from our bodies, if we just listen.

By doing this quick check-in, I was able to realize where I wasn’t meeting my own needs. Learning from my needs and making a plan to do better helps me to create a trusting relationship with myself. As I build trust with myself, I take better care of myself, and I know myself better. This creates more peace and self-awareness in my life.

When you are feeling completely frazzled, do a quick check-in with yourself about your basic needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I hungry? When was the last time I ate something nourishing?
  • Am I thirsty? How much water have I drunk today?
  • What have I done to check-in with my body today (i.e. deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk)?
  • Do I need to go to the bathroom? (You would be surprised at how often we ignore our most basic needs.)

Approach your answers with compassion and curiosity, not judgment. Act on the information you discover, and take care of yourself. Learn from what you discover, and make a plan for how to do better next time. You really can learn to trust your instincts.


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