You can’t give to others if you don’t give to yourself. This is the universal law that applies to all humans, no matter what age or sex. Unfortunately, people can easily get caught up in taking care of loved ones, whether that be your children, your employees, your parents, or your friends.

Men are expected to be the providers. From caveman days men would go out for weeks and sometimes months to find food and hide to feed and clothe his family. Women have also learned from their heritage. From early days they were expected to stay home with their children and keep the village functioning until the providers returned.

Today’s column is about assessing your needs. Think of a pie cut into five pieces. Each piece represents a need that is essential to a balanced lifestyle:
• Physical needs
• Intellectual needs
• Spiritual needs
• Social needs
• Emotional needs

It is imperative to assess whether you meet all five of these needs. If one of these needs goes unmet or gets placed on the back burner there will be a void in your life that will keep you out of balance. It will contribute to putting yourself last.

Do you attend to each one of these needs?
• Physical needs: Do you monitor what you do for your body? Do you get eight- to ten hours of sleep each night? The average adult gets 6.2 hours of sleep, which is not enough to replace cells and recharge energy. Consequently, people walk around in a half-dazed state. Do you get the proper nutrition? Is mealtime an opportunity to slow down and check in with loved ones? How would your life be different if you spent one meal with your entire family per day?
• Intellectual needs: Do you plan time in your week to read and relax? Do you pursue activities that keep you knowledgeable and excited about life? Have you taken that computer course, joined the book club, or signed up for an adult learning course? When you stimulate intellect you invest in your self-esteem.
• Spiritual needs: What do you do to increase your faith? “Faith” is the belief that things will work out for the best. When you develop faith, you have less fear. You feel less alone in the world. You get to depend on something other than yourself—a higher power.
• Social needs: Do you have a support network? Do you have a group of people who are there for you on a regular basis? Human beings are social creatures and need others. You can’t do it all by yourself. Make sure to spend time with friends who positively replenish you. If your support system is negative, you will need to increase healthy social contacts.
• Emotional needs: Do you feel your feelings? Are you comfortable sharing happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear, anger, and loneliness? Many people have been taught to hide from their feelings. This can suppress the immune system and literally make you feel sick. The healthiest people are able to honor their feelings, share them with others, and look at life with a positive spin.

Take a look at the big picture and decide for yourself if each piece of your pie contributes to your whole being. If you’re missing a piece, or if one of your pieces is extremely small, it’s time to decide what you can do to balance your life.

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