PCM Stress Management

How will you take care of yourself this year?

PCM training; Psychological Needs;

It’s almost the end of January, and I am still partly hibernating… I get things done, but my energy levels are not the same as when the sun is shining brightly… You might experience the same thing…

This January, I allowed myself to enter more slowly than usual back into my activities. I didn’t feel I rested very well during the winter holidays, and I took some time to analyse how I was feeling, and my levels of available energy and then, I adjusted the rhythm of activities accordingly.

Full-speed January?

I have done this self-analysis process because, even though I’ve been self-employed for more than six years now, I still have some habits from my previous corporate life: January is about getting back in action, at full speed, regardless of how I felt (because everyone was doing that, or it was supposed to). And if I was not fast enough or busy enough, I blamed myself… Well, old habits don’t die so easily…

But what if we would start the year (and continue it) by respecting our own rhythm, listening to our bodies, becoming aware of our psychological needs and clearly distinguishing between what is important for us and what is just… noise… If you are ready for action and are full of energy… absolutely, go for it! If not, then maybe, instead of forcing yourself to do and achieve, take a bit of time and space to observe where you are and where you really want to go.

Allow me to share some practices I am currently applying and how I found out about them:

During an accountability session with a fellow trainer, I found out about a mindful practice that she’s using to protect her energy, and I am now using it too.

There are two elements here:

  • First: I am constructing a high-level view of what I’d want to achieve in a month, then splitting the big objective into weekly ones and then into To-Dos for every week. This will then translate into a list of to-dos for each day that is realistically “doable” and doesn’t squeeze too many things into it. Something like: 3 priorities for today… not 5 or 6.
  • Second: when I’m done with the list, stop. Even if it’s not yet 6 pm (that’s the time I normally stop working). Or, if it’s 6 pm and I’m not done… I’ll still stop. Tomorrow is another day, and work has a tendency to never diminish.

I’m still a “work in progress” with this practice, as I normally tend to add more things to the list of the day when I’m done with it. But it starts to work already, and I see how I feel less stressed when I apply this, and, guess what, more productive when I work.

If you are employed, you might think that “I don’t have the freedom to stop when I want or only do three things in a day”… and that might be true. I only invite you to analyze if some of these practices would make your day less stressful and maybe, more productive. Or give them a twist so that they better fit your reality. The bottom line is: are you putting more pressure on yourself than you should?


With winter time here, shorter days and longer nights, it’s a natural state for our bodies and minds to be “wintering” (as Katherine May calls it in her book with the same name). I find it helps me a lot when I’m respecting the rhythm of nature. That doesn’t mean I always do it… unfortunately, I don’t. And then I reap the results: stress, tiredness, low productivity (which translates into nervousness), and other somatizations… I guess I’m still learning 😊.

One other direction of acting, besides managing our energy, is to proactively charge our “batteries” by covering our Psychological Needs, so that we can be well, do well, adapt to people and situations in a constructive manner.

Our Psychological Needs according to the Process Communication Model (PCM)

In PCM, we talk about the 9 Psychological Needs that we all have, some stronger than others, based on our Personality Structure. There are one or two of these needs that can have a strong motivational power for us, depending on our personality structure. You can see them in the image below – take some time and analyze which one(s) are strongest for you.

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So, which ones of these nine Psychological Needs do you feel are the most important for you?

Do you have a plan for keeping them covered?

Just like we don’t even consider not charging our mobile phones, it’s the same with these needs. If we want to function at our best, to be productive and constructive and not enter distress, we should proactively cover as many of these needs as we can (and prioritize the most important of them – our motivational needs).

Sometimes, life is busy, work and family can require a lot from our side, and we might get to put our needs last. But then, if we don’t have energy, we don’t have how to help and serve others. It works just like what we’re being told when we are on a plane, getting ready to take off: “In case of cabin depressurization, put your mask first!” – if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we won’t be able to take care of others.

My example

In my case, my most important Psychological Needs (motivational needs) are the ones from the Harmonizer: Recognition of Person and Sensory Needs. And, as such, I’ve made my plan for this year, in order to have them covered as often as possible:

Recognition of Person: I’m making a priority of having connection time with my husband and meeting my family members and friends more often. Spending time with people who love me unconditionally really charges my battery.

Sensory Needs: I have made a rule to go at least once a month for a massage. I’m restarting to use scented incense sticks and candles in my office. I’m bringing more flowers into my office.

As you can see, it’s not that difficult (unless we make it so 😉), once we start thinking in terms of what is possible. I hope you will also decide to make a priority out of covering your psychological needs (and not only these). Do more of what you love and what charges your battery. Put yourself first so that you can then do more for others, for work, for what is important to you.

So… How will you take care of yourself this year? Please share with me in a comment.

My PCM Training Courses

We go into the subject of our Psychological Needs and many more interesting themes in my PCM training courses. I normally deliver PCM in-house, face-to-face or online, for organisations around Europe. However, twice a year (in early spring and autumn), I organise Open PCM Courses, where anyone can sign up. One session in English and one in Romanian. These are for all those who want to know themselves better and improve their relationships, their communication and their stress management. The Open PCM Courses are organised as a 6-week programme: we meet online every week for 3h15’ to learn and practice and then we have homework from one week to another to “play the detective” and practice again what we’ve learnt. If this interests you, check out the presentation page of the Open PCM Training Programme or schedule a virtual coffee with me to learn more about it.

Hurry up! The next cohorts start on the 15/16th of February 2024.

PS: A big reason I write is to meet people so feel free to say Hi! on Linkedin here or follow my Instagram here, as I’d love to learn more about you.

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In my newsletter, I usually write about Process Communication Model and Neuroscience, and how they can help us in our day-to-day life.

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