Written by guest contributor Stephenie Craig, LCSW
How’s your stress level? How are your relationships? How is your physical and mental health? Are your current coping strategies moving you closer or further away from a sense of peace and direction? Often, we skip these questions and move straight to goals and resolutions at the beginning of each year. What if this year, you slow down and take a soul inventory instead? What would it look like to reflect over the last several months of caring for yourself and ask, “What’s working?” and “What’s not working?”?
One of the beautiful things about being human is your ability to change and adapt based on new information. Once you reflect and understand what’s working and what changes are needed to be in a healthier, more balanced space, you can begin taking steps to better care for yourself. Change initially causes discomfort, but you are capable of change even when it’s hard.
So, how are you supposed to figure out what needs to change and what you’re supposed to do about it?
5 Self-Assessment Questions for Better Self-Care:
How are you tending to your energy level? Maybe you’re exhausted, lacking sleep, noticing in your face/body that you’re pushing too hard. Take 10 minutes to reflect and write your observations about your energy level. Note activities you’re doing that create positive energy that you’d like to continue or increase. Note energy-draining activities that you’d like to let go of. Try sorting these activities into categories of “must keep” (be careful that you aren’t putting everything into this category) and “could let go.” Write one shift you could make to improve tending to your energy level.
How are you tending to your spirit? Maybe you’ve prioritized other important things over taking care of yourself spiritually. Maybe past emotional baggage makes it hard to prioritize spiritual practices. Engaging spiritually often results in increased connection, hope, and joy in life. Take 10 minutes to reflect and write about past spiritual activities that have helped you. Reflect on how you felt when you engaged in those activities. Reflect on why you stopped doing those activities. Write one shift you could make to improve tending to your spirit.
How are you tending to your physical body? If you will listen, your body will provide you with valuable information about your well-being. Maybe you’ve been putting off going to the doctor. Maybe you’re avoiding moving your body. Maybe your relationship with food has become unbalanced in some way. Maybe you’re using substances to self-medicate, and your body is paying the price. Take 10 minutes to reflect and write about physical practices that create balance for you. Reflect on the barriers keeping you from engaging in these practices regularly. Write one shift you’d like to make to tend better to your physical body.
How are you tending to your emotions? Your mood and management of emotions can make or break your daily life experience. Allowing space for emotion and having effective strategies to cope and calm when emotions get large can completely revolutionize your emotional landscape. Take 10 minutes to reflect on which feelings create the most discomfort for you. Note unhealthy coping skills you currently use to suppress or avoid feelings (drinking, shopping, eating, raging, avoiding). Note healthy ways you’ve coped and calmed in the past that have worked for you without causing extra problems in your life (walk, talk to friend, art, deep breathing, podcast, time in nature). Write one coping shift you’d like to make to tend better to your emotions.
How are you tending to your relationships? Maybe you find yourself being defensive, not listening well, or pushing away those you love. Take 10 minutes to reflect on how you are experiencing and showing up in your most important relationships. Note relationships that feel unhealthy and why. Note relationships that feel positive/supportive and why. Note your behavior patterns that are causing problems in your relationships. Write one shift you’d like to make to better tend to your relationships.
Making changes to prioritize caring for yourself can feel challenging. Try remembering that you must take care of yourself consistently to show up well in your family, work, and community life. All aspects of your life suffer when you are at the bottom of your life “to do” list.
Stephenie Craig is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in emotional/relational health. As a therapist with 18 years of experience providing counseling, coaching, and skill training to individuals, families, and couples, she offers holistic counseling tending to body, mind, and spirit to help you feel better, improve your relationships, and move through your current stress to a more emotionally balanced and healthy way of living. You can find more of Stephenie’s wisdom at journeybravely.com.