In a recent session with a client who is struggling with depression, we were discussing some healthy things she could begin to do for herself. She was well aware of the symptoms of depression but she wondered, aside from the obvious, about the "symptoms" or signs of a healthy woman. She asked me if there was a list I could compile for her, and I thought I would share what I came up with. If you notice something I left out, feel free to let me know!
P.S. I asked my husband, Steve Legallet (who is also a psychotherapist), how he thought this list could work for men. He said that I could basically exchange the "shes" with "hes" and it would totally hold up.
40 Symptoms of a Healthy Woman
1) She takes care of her body and treats it with respect.
2) She eats well and doesn't under-eat, binge, or purge.
3) She moves her body in ways that feel good to her and rests without an ounce of guilt.
4) She gets an adequate amount of sleep and rest. If she has difficulty sleeping, she sees it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness and/or other relaxation techniques.
5) She does not abuse drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or screen-time.
6) She maintains a good balance between resting and accomplishing things (being and doing).
7) She maintains a good balance between being with people and being alone.
8) When she is alone, she enjoys her own company.
9) She treats herself like she would treat a child she adores or her best friend.
10) She has a loving, kind soundtrack of thoughts that play in her mind and when unkind or unhelpful thoughts pop up, she challenges them.
11) She has a good relationship with her emotions. She cries when she's sad and expresses her anger and frustration respectfully. She welcomes all her feelings and either sits with them, reaches out to safe people, or gives herself what she needs.
12) She is able to grieve her losses and treat herself kindly in the process.
13) She reaches out for support when she's struggling.
14) She has made peace with the past and also acknowledges and honors her past hurts when they arise.
15) She can tolerate anxiety and change without catastrophizing.
16) She spends a lot of her time in the present moment rather than lost in the past or the future.
17) She spends time doing things for the sheer pleasure of it rather than always thinking she needs to be accomplishing something.
18) She makes time for things that fulfill her and are important to her.
19) She is able to compromise at times without compromising her values or her core needs.
20) She follows her heart and gives herself time to get clarity if she is unsure about something.
21) She maintains a balance between giving to herself and giving to others.
22) She knows that hard times will pass, and she is extra sweet to herself when life feels extra hard.
23) She uses supportive tools (journaling, reaching out to safe people, spiritual practices, reading, therapy, podcasts, etc.) when life gets hard instead of using substances, negative self-talk or unhealthy behaviors.
24) She feels lovable and worthy regardless of the circumstances in her life.
25) She looks for opportunities to practice acceptance and gratitude.
26) She is aware of her finances and lives within her means.
27) She uses her finances to both treat herself and be responsible for herself.
28) She can accept compliments without disclaimers.
29) She doesn't expect herself (or others) to be happy all the time and uses her struggles as opportunities to get support and be kind to herself.
30) She expresses her thoughts, feelings and needs in a respectful, mature manner and respectfully listens to other people's thoughts, feelings and needs.
31) She spends time with people she feels safe and aligned with.
32) She sets limits with others when she needs to. She can say "no" or "I need to change my mind" on occasion without thinking she is a terrible person.
33) She does not spend time comparing herself to others. She knows that everyone struggles and that nobody is better than or less than she is.
34) She does not give other peoples' opinions more weight than her own.
35) When confronted with disagreements, she values the other person's point of view and also checks in with herself to see if she agrees, disagrees, or needs more time to think about it.
36) She can hear and consider difficult feedback from others without attacking them or herself.
37) She can apologize to others and forgive herself for her humanness.
38) She can forgive others for being imperfect and move beyond relationship glitches.
39) She can be in her strength without being disrespectful to others. She can be in her softness without being disrespectful to herself.
40) She doesn't think she needs to be perfect at anything -- including any of the above!
Andrea Wachter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-author of The Don't Diet, Live-It Workbook. Andrea has over 25 years of experience working with children, teens, adults, families and groups. She is passionate about helping people who are struggling with eating disorders, body image, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, grief and relationships. Andrea is an inspirational counselor, author and speaker who uses professional expertise, humor and personal recovery to help others. For more information on her book, blogs or other services, please visit: www.andreawachter.com.