Balanced Needs

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Having a sense of balance is so important in our lives, no more so than in the lives of those of us who spend our time caring for others. Our ebb and flow can be affected by the amount of our time and emotional energy we feel that we give versus how much we feel we receive. Of course, the old adage is true, that in giving we receive. However, for most of us this needs a balanced approach that respects our own personal sense of equilibrium.

We also need to be ready when required to respond to our own needs with generosity, entitlement and without even a shred of guilt. As it was so succinctly, put by a participant in a recent training workshop “self care is a necessity not a luxury”. Amen. 

ying-yang 1


In this exercise, you are encouraged to explore in a very ‘practical way’ (the watchwords of Self Care for Carers) how you are giving  and receiving in your life at the moment.

Using the symbol ying and yang to represent perfect balance as per the natural order, let’s consider this symbol in terms of giving and receiving.

Let’s imagine that shaded part represents the amount we feel we give to others (clients, patients, family, friends, additional commitments) and the white is amount we sense we receive from ourselves or others.

Draw a curved line in the large white circle to represent how you much you ‘feel’ that you give and you receive at the moment.  Here are some examples of what being ‘out of balance’ might feel like.


yin imbalance

yang too much






Now, close your eyes for a moment, take a couple of deep breaths and when you’re ready with a pen draw a line to bisect the circle below to represent how in balance you feel in your life at the moment. Shade the part based on how much you feel you are giving and leave the white part to represent how much you feel you are receiving.

Be honest and go with your gut


My giving and receiving

 Take a moment to consider your drawing



Looking at your drawing: Are you surprised at what you drew?


What is the ratio of giving to others and receiving?


Do you think its an accurate representation of how in balance your needs are at the moment?


Is there any messages that you can take from this diagram?


Here are a list of items that can be useful for helping to identify areas of self care which we may take for granted. Take your time going through this list, it is non exhaustive, but please feel free to write in any additional areas that you feel describe your individual needs. Source: Transforming the Pain: Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996)

Using the scale below, rate the following areas in terms of your frequency attending to each.

5 = Frequently  4 = Occasionally  3 = Rarely  2 = Never  1 = It never occurred to me

Physical Self-Care

___ Eat regularly (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner)

___ Eat healthy

___ Exercise

___ Get regular medical care for prevention

___ Get medical care when needed

___ Take time off when needed

___ Get massages or do both work exercises such as EFT, acupressure etc.

___ Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun

___ Take time to be sexual—with yourself, with a partner

___ Get enough sleep

___ Wear clothes you like

___ Take holidays

___ Take day trips or days away

___ Make time away from mobile phone or other electronic devices such as ipads, etc.

___ Other:


Psychological Self-Care

___ Make time for self-reflection

___ Have your own personal psychotherapy

___ Write in a journal

___ Read literature that is unrelated to work

___ Do something at which you are not expert or in charge

___ Decrease stress in your life

___ Notice your inner experience—listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings

___ Engage your intelligence in a new area, e.g. go to an art museum, history exhibition,  sports event, play etc.

___ Be curious

___ Say “no” to extra responsibilities sometimes

___ Other:


Emotional Self-Care


___ Spend time with others whose company you enjoy

___ Stay in contact with important people in your life

___ Give yourself affirmations, praise yourself

___ Love yourself

___ Re-read favourite books, rewatch favourite movies

___ Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out

___ Allow yourself to cry

___ Find things that make you laugh

___ Play with children

___ Other:



Spiritual Self-Care


___ Make time for reflection

___ Spend time with nature

___ Be open to inspiration

___ Cherish your optimism and hope

___ Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life

___ Try at times not to be in charge or the expert

___ Be open to not knowing

___ Meditate

___ Pray

___ Sing

___ Spend time with children

___ Have experiences of awe

___ Contribute to causes in which you believe

___ Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

___ Other:


Workplace or Professional Self-Care

___ Take a break during the workday (e.g. lunch)

___ Take time to chat with co-workers

___ Make quiet time to complete tasks

___ Identify projects or tasks that are exciting and rewarding

___ Set limits with your clients and colleagues

___ Balance your caseload so that no one day or part of a day is “too much”

___ Arrange your work space so it is comfortable and comforting

___ Get regular supervision or consultation

___ Negotiate for your needs

___ Have a peer support group

___ Other:


 From this exercise: What are the main areas that you feel would help you to feel connected and balanced. How can you schedule in time in these areas?  
















Half Yearly









Feedback and comments on this exercise are always welcome:                                                                                         

Balanced Needs (c) Self Care for Carers 2015