Nourishing ARC basic needs during the Corona crisis

Right now, the world is still in the grip of the Coronavirus. Many are diligently looking for ways to deal with this troubling and challenging situation. Countless professionals, for example in healthcare, work hard to keep society running as smoothly as possible. We are looking for ways to keep in touch with each other in groups, for example through online meeting tools. An enormous amount of creativity and helpfulness is released. There is a lot of advice on social media on how best to survive this difficult time. I would also like to make a small suggestion.

The ARC basic needs

Three basic psychological needs that we all have are the need for autonomy, competence and relatedness. These three are sometimes referred to as the ARC needs (for autonomy, relatedness, competence). The satisfaction of these basic needs is necessary to function well and to feel good. The needs mean the following:
  1. Autonomy: the experience of volition and willingness. When this need is met, you experience a sense of integrity and endorsement of your behavior, thoughts, and feelings. When this need is frustrated, you experience pressure and conflict and feel like you are being pushed in an unwanted direction.
  2. Relatedness: the experience of warmth, connection and care. When this need is met, you feel connected and important to others. When this need is frustrated, you experience a sense of alienation, exclusion and loneliness.
  3. Competence: the experience of effectiveness and competence. When this need is met, you feel able to engage in an activity and see opportunities to apply and develop your skills and knowledge. When this need is frustrated, you experience ineffectiveness, a sense of failure and helplessness.

ARC during the crisis

These needs are present throughout our lives and in different situations and contexts. You might think that these needs are less applicable in extreme situations because people would have other things on their mind. But that is not the case. They are also essential in situations of deprivation and insecurity and probably even more important than is normally the case.

Nourish basic needs

Taking this as a starting point, it might be good to consider how we can continue to nourish our own basic needs and those of others right now. How can we continue to feel autonomous when we are now faced with such strict limitations? How can we stay connected when we have much less opportunity to meet people? How can we continue to feel competent when we are limited to do our work? Here is a small checklist with some hints on how to do this.
  1. Autonomy: The restrictions placed on us now could threaten your need for autonomy. When you understand why these restrictions are necessary now, you can get behind them and get behind them to stick to them. Do you find yourself annoyed by the restrictions imposed? Then read some background articles on the internet or watch YouTube videos about the necessity of them so that you can stand behind it more.
  2. Autonomy: Many of us are now at home and have more time. This means that we can also spend more time on things that we really like and find interesting. Think of drawing, making music or reading. What more interesting activity could you do now?
  3. Autonomy: Doing things that we find really valuable also satisfies our need for autonomy. How could we spend the extra time we have now on things we find important or useful? Consider, for example, repairing things, maintaining your house, updating your administration, helping other people, etc.
  4. Relatedness: How can you spend time with the people in your immediate living environment in a fun way? Think of walking, playing games, cooking together, etc.
  5. Relatedness: Which people you have not spoken to in a while can you contact again? Who would you like to call? Who do you want to send an app or a card to?
  6. Relatedness: Who could you help? Who could you ask for help from?
  7. Competence: In which difficult skill do you want to invest now? A new language? Learn to play a musical instrument? Follow an online course?
  8. Competency: How can you immerse yourself in new skills that can come in handy during this crisis? Consider the use of online tools.
  9. Competence: How can you continue to use your existing knowledge and skills for developing new products or writing articles?
These are some small and perhaps obvious things. I suspect that if you give a little more attention to a few things from this list it will help you feel a little better about doing something meaningful.