MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: Mindful wellness
I have discussed a number of mindfulness techniques in this column from time to time, but recently I have discovered a wonderful assessment tool that helps us learn how to create for ourselves an environment of mindful self-care on a regular basis. I’m referring to behaviors that routinely improve our own, personal environment of self-care. The Mindful Self-Care Scale (MSCS) is an open access resource offered by the University of Buffalo. Mindful Wellness has many aspects, but the ‘YOU’ is always at the center This free assessment focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of YOU in your own self-care behaviors. We all are better at some aspects of self-care than others and this tool offers us a solid assessment, and interventions that serve to improve self-care. It takes only a few minutes to take online and will give you a detailed report via email right after you take it.
I took the assessment and found the results very helpful. As well, I have been asking my clients to take it and they also find it very helpful. The MSCS addresses these ten areas of self-care: nutrition/hydration, exercise, self-soothing strategies, selfawareness, mindfulness, rest, relationships, physical and medical practices, environmental factors, self-compassion and spiritual practices. There are also three general items that assess an individual’s general, or more global practices of self-care. “Self-care, as a contemporary practice is defined as the daily process of being aware of and attending to one’s basic physiological and emotional needs including the shaping of one’s daily routine, relationships and environment…” (Norcross and Guy, 2007). “Self-care is seen as a foundational work required for physical and emotional well-being. Self-care is associated with positive physical health, emotional well-being and mental health” (Cook-Cottone, 2015).
The six domains that the MSCS will give you feedback on are:
Physical Care: In this area the recommendations will be based on how much you already give yourself in the areas of planning, having fun, getting exercise, eating well and getting enough water intake. All really basic, but critically important.
Supportive Relationships: This area looks at our relationships and boundaries, making distinctions between generally having a lot of friends and having relationships that are secure, supportive and healthy.
Mindful Awareness: Taking a look at what practices will enhance our self-awareness are covered here. This might mean different things for different people, but some practice might include yoga, prayer or meditation or walks in nature.
Self-Compassion and Purpose: These recommendations help us learn to tap into our own purpose and give self-compassion. Connecting to our own growth and purpose can be the little push we need to move us through times that are difficult and challenging
Mindful Relaxation: These are techniques that help us to regulate our emotions and self-soothe in times of increased stress.
Supportive Structure: The assessment acknowledges the effect that our environments can have on our well-being. Our personal spaces can impact our ability to stay emotionally regulated and overall balanced. The comfort and appeal of our surroundings … lights, furniture, decorations, smells…these can set the tone of our space and play a role in stress or de-stress.
We have all at some point heard the call to ‘get back to the basics’, but it is really challenging sometimes to know what that really means. Having a free assessment like this one is helpful because it gives us some real-life, specific suggestions on how we can improve our own self-care and immediately experience the difference that can make in our lives. I have suggested that people implement the recommendations and come back in 90 days and re-take the assessment. It might be an interesting way to notice our progress.
Bill Mory, Ed., LPC, LMFT is licensed therapist in private practice, in Texoma, who is an active member of the local behavioral health network and a provider of workplace training on Mindfulness, Emotional Brain Training and other topics. Learn more at www.morytherapy.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.