Every year, most of us schedule appointments with our physician and dentist to make sure that our bodies and teeth are strong and healthy. Doesn’t our mental health merit the same attention? Although an annual psychological checkup may not be feasible for everyone, we can still do much to ensure emotional and mental wellbeing.
The following is a list of wide-ranging questions that can provide you with a framework in which to assess how well (or how badly) you are doing. Your answers will provide you with an opportunity to probe, reflect and grow. Your responses are for you alone, so feel free to dig deep and answer each section honestly. This is not the time or place to try fooling yourself. Remember — there are no perfect scores!
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
- MENTAL HEALTH: Are you generally happy with life, your relationships and the general direction that you’re going? Overall, have you experienced a period of depression that has lasted longer than two weeks or that has negatively affected your work or relationships? If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or suicidal thoughts or gestures, are you willing to reach out and ask for help?
- RELATIONSHIPS: Do you have people in your life who you really care about and who you can depend on? Are your relationships with your significant other, children, family and friends largely positive?
- PROFESSIONAL & FINANCIAL STABILITY: Do you enjoy your work and find it mostly interesting and fulfilling? Do you find your workplace (even working from home) stimulating and supportive? How do you get along with your colleagues? How are your finances? Are you financially responsible, with little debt? Do you feel panicked about your financial situation? Do you spend money recklessly?
- EMOTIONAL COMMUNICATION & PROBLEM-SOLVING: Are you able to constructively express emotions including: love, fear, disappointment, anger, sadness and jealousy? Are you willing and able to acknowledge, address and resolve issues when they arise?
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Are you concerned with any alcohol or prescription use or abuse? Have you suffered any negative repercussions or relationship difficulties as a result of your possible substance abuse? You might want to ask a close friend or partner to corroborate your own thoughts and feelings about this. Their answers could give you some much needed objectivity.
- PHYSICAL HEALTH: These are difficult times to try and stay in shape. How is your physical health generally? Are you basically in good health and have you had a complete physical, including blood work, within the last year? Do you follow your doctor’s advice and take your medications as prescribed? Do you have an exercise protocol? Do you walk at least 30 minutes most days, and usually eat a healthy and well-balanced diet?
- SLEEP: How are your sleeping patterns? Do you have difficulty falling or staying asleep? Are you getting at least 7–8 hours of restful sleep most nights?
- SEX, SEXUAL ORIENTATION & GENDER: Are you mostly satisfied with the quantity and quality of your sex life? If not, why not? Are you living an authentic life in terms of your gender and sexual orientation?
- SELF-CARE: Do you take good care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually? Do you feel that you are living a life of purpose and spiritual satisfaction? Do you know how to relax and enjoy the beauty of life and nature around you? Do you try and surround yourself with loving and supportive people who help you appreciate the joy and mystery of life? Have you learned to not engage with toxic people, including family and friends, who hinder you in living a contented and balanced life? Are your electronic devices interfering with the quality of your life and your relationships?
- GOALS: Do you have clarity about your goals? Do you believe that they are realistic and achievable? Even though you have yet to fully achieve them, do you feel that you’re on the right path to eventually reach them?
ARE YOU READY TO MAKE SOME CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS, AND TO CREATE THE LIFE THAT YOU WANT?
You’ve just asked yourself some really tough questions. Now it’s time to review your answers in each of the 10 categories. Hopefully, you are on the right track. On the other hand, you may discover that you are on a path that is causing you great distress and pain in your life. We all know that it’s often very difficult to be fully truthful with ourselves. Yet it is our avoidance, denial, blame, self-blame and defensiveness that keep us in a downward spiral. It takes a lot of courage to be willing to acknowledge, address and resolve (as best as we can) the things that continue to get in the way of our lives and relationships. And yet, if we refuse to step up to the plate and confront our demons (old and new), it becomes increasingly more difficult to fully enjoy our life.
SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
Here’s hoping that you will have the courage for the new year to do the necessary work to change your life in wonderful ways that you never thought would be possible. The choice is yours. Make it a good one. And remember — you don’t need to navigate life’s challenges on your own. Commit to making 2022 the best year yet!
Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, author of For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker, national radio and television expert guest and host of “The Ask Beatty Show” on the Progressive Radio Network. She has a private practice in New York City and East Hampton.