Finding a Balance: Self Care Quiz

Originally published in June 2010.

Grievers often spend a lot of time taking care of the “business” of grief, and adjusting the new responsibilities that follow. Taking care of other family members, household chores, financial matters, and medical claims can be extremely difficult – while busy taking care of these things, grievers often overlook taking care of themselves.

It is important to find a good balance between the things that really need to be taken care of and taking care of yourself! Think of it as having an emotional bank account, in which you make “deposits” when you do things to that help you relax and find comfort – listening to your favorite music, reading, exercising, being with friends, vacationing, meditating, or other healthy activities that make you feel good.

On the other hand, you will make “withdrawals” from your emotional bank account by doing some necessary things such as the hard work of grief, taking care of business, or taking care of others. You also make a withdrawal from your emotional bank account by doing things that could be harmful to yourself physically or emotionally.

Just as in our financial lives, it is important to maintain a positive balance; make sure your withdrawals are not exceeding your deposits. To see how well you’re doing with your own emotional and physical bank account, take the self care quiz provided below.

1. How well are you caring for yourself emotionally by doing something good for yourself or using your favorite healthy coping skills?

_____Daily (5 pts.)

_____2-3 times per week (3 pts.)

_____1 time per week (0 pts.)

_____Less than 1 time per week (-3 pts.)

_____Almost never (-5 pts.)

2. How well are you caring for yourself physically?

____ How often are you exercising? (5 pts. for 5x per week, 3 pts. for 3x per week, -3 for anything less than 3x per week)

____ Are you eating healthy meals? (5 pts. for always, 3 pts. for usually, 0 pts. for sometimes, -3 pts. for rarely, -5 pts. for never)

____ Are you sleeping the number of hours you consider necessary for yourself? (5 pts. if you always do so, 3 pts. for usually, 0 pts. for occasionally, -3 if rarely and -5 for never)

____ Do you ever use prescription drugs beyond their recommended dosage? -5 pt.s if yes)

____ Do you drink alcoholic beverages more often than you used to? (-3 pts. if yes, once or twice per week. -5 pts. if more than twice per week)

3. Grieving people often need to give themselves permission to take a break from their grief, permission to have fun, to laugh and to be happy. They need to feel and experience whatever their grief presents them with, but they also need to give themselves “grief breaks” and distract themselves periodically.  How often are you taking a break from your grief?

____ On a regular basis (5 pts.)

____ Usually (3 pts.)

____ Rarely (-3 pts.)

____ Never (-5 pts.)

4. Additional stress on top of grief can be extremely taxing. Give yourself 3 pts. for each of the following stress reduction techniques that you regularly use:

____ avoiding known stressors

____ exercise

____ listening or playing music

____ prayer

____ meditation

____ yoga

____ writing or journaling

____ breathing exercises

____ reading funny books or watching funny movies/videos

____ asking for help when you feel overwhelmed

____ spending time with friends or family

5. Grief work takes a lot of time and energy; grievers often need to relax their standards and self- expectations temporarily. How often do you cut yourself some slack and relax your standards because you’re grieving?

____ regulary (5 pts.)

____ occassionally (3 pts.)

____ rarely (-3 pts.)

____ never (-5 pts.)

Calculating your score:

21 or more points: Good job. You are doing a great job of taking care of yourself during the grief journey. It is harder to find the time to care for yourself while grieving than many people understand. You have found a way to maintain necessary balance and keep your emotional bank full. Continue doing so!

12-20 points: You’re off to a great start! You already make time for yourself, but could help yourself even more by adding more self-care techniques, reducing any negative or harmful coping skills, or by doing the positive self care you’re already doing on a more regular basis.

Less than 12 points: You deserve the opportunity to heal in a healthy way both physically and emotionally. If you are not taking time to relax, and enjoy yourself admist the difficult work of grief and caring for others, you are not being fair to yourself. Incorporate at least some of the recommendations above into your life and make the necessary adjustments in places where you lost points.

It is important to remember that coping skills can be anything you enjoy doing that make you feel better and provide comfort, without hurting youself physically or emotionally. No matter how big or how small, do something good for yourself everyday!

Photo Credit.


  1. Sandi Elzinga said on June 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm ... #

    I wish I had known this after my husband died 8 years ago. I could have avoided burnout.

    GriefWalk: Hope Through The Dark Places

  2. Alisa said on June 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm ... #

    I coudn’t do anything to protect my child from being murdered. I don’t feel I deserve to take care of myself and most of the time, I don’t even want to. I am still so lost and can’t find any local help. I get so tired of the struggle of just the daily things.

  3. Maggie said on June 29, 2010 at 8:53 am ... #

    Alisa, it is completely normal after experiencing the murder of a child or loved one to feel like you don’t deserve to take care of yourself. I think a lot of people feel like they have to subject themselves to pain in order to honor their loved one and the pain they experienced in their death. Ultimately, I hope you are able to work through this and get to a place where you CAN take care of yourself and treat yourself well. I do believe that you deserve to take care of yourself and be good to yourself. And I am so glad you found your way to HelloGrief- especially since you said you are having a tough time finding local help. This community is here for you on the good days and the bad days, to give you a refuge when the struggle of daily life is too much. Hang in there- hang on by the very tip of your fingernails, but hang on. Thinking about you.

  4. Cyndi and Mike Abell said on July 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm ... #

    We are in the same place as Alisa…we couldn’t protect our only son from murder and although we try to cope with daily life…after 5 yrs. since his murder we still are stuck in the rut. I don’t think we subject ourselves to the pain…it hits you when you don’t even expect it OR want it.We get on the right track and another tragedy happens.Both of my surviving daughter’s have lost their husbands to untimely death’s in the past 2 years and so the grief goes on. So many factors affect different people…I wish there was one easy solution.Finances affect grieving and the way one finds solutions and grief affects finances…(getting laid off and/or not being able to work because of lack of interest and concentration)just adds to more stress…How PTSD can change everything. We are looking for solutions and yet I don’t feel worthy to have happiness anymore.Time to regroup!

  5. Tracey said on July 13, 2010 at 4:19 am ... #

    My son committed suicide 6 weeks ago, I scored 3 points on this test. Maybe in 6 months I may score more but it certainly doesn’t feel like this pain will ever go away.

  6. joyce said on July 13, 2010 at 10:25 pm ... #

    When my daughter died 2 years ago..she left behind my 7 yr old granddaughter…I have worked very hard to meet all her needs..but alas I have never attended to mine…until Comfort Zone for adults.

  7. Lucinda Reed said on August 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm ... #

    I lost my daughter 4 years ago and most days it feels like she just passed away. I spent all 8 years of, Alexandra’s, life caring for her 24/7. She was perfect until she was born and the doctor let her go 16 min without oxygen. She was never able to hold her head up, sit up, walk, talk, or even eat by mouth. I was a mom and a nurse. I gave up my career to care for her. By the time she passed away I had 3 little boys. So, I have had no time to grieve. Then I have a niece that is 2 days older than Alexandra, so I get to see her grow and it makes me think of all the things I have lost. I can’t motivate myself to do anything. I kind of just go thru the motions of everyday life.

  8. Brooke said on August 29, 2010 at 12:50 am ... #

    I scored a -17. Is anyone else scoring so low? The father of my child committed suicide a year ago and I feel that the healing process over the last year has only become harder and not easier even though so much time has past. I can tell this is going to be a very very long process for me.

  9. donna said on September 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm ... #

    This comment is for Lucinda Reed. I’m sorry to hear the loss of your daughter 4 years ago and that you’re having trouble functioning. You said you has 3 sons but didn’t indicate how they were doing. As a special
    education teacher for 19 years, I have seen the care a special needs child requires and it is often difficult to have balance in the family. Often the family needs counseling of avert divorce, stress, conflict, etc. Sometimes other children in the family feel that they’re not as important as the “special child” and live a life in a shadow or always trying to please the parent for attention. I’m not a doctor but I hope you can find some support soon. Do you ever feel stuck and unable to move forward? My husband died 12 yrs. ago and he was the love of my life for 36 yrs. Grief is such hard work and can be exhausting. You sound like a very wonderful Mother. Your daughter doesn’t have any limitations in Heaven and some day you will be able to see her again.
    What a Blessing that will be for your family.

  10. sharon said on September 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm ... #

    I lost my daughter,oct.30,2009 from a brain hemmorage.She was 37, with 2 children. Her daughter is with her dad and her son is with me, (different dads). My son is 11 , and hers 17 so you can see the age difference is unusual to most. My daughter was also my bestfriend.I don’t believe the grief ever gets better and I’ve gotten to the point I can’t listen to anymore advice from people who have no idea what its like and I pray they never do, so Im grateful to have found this site.

  11. norma said on September 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm ... #

    I lost my husband of 52 yrs on March 18th 2010 and my world has not been the same.
    I took the above test and scored not bad but still have trouble coping some days. Will the pain ever go away????
    He was such a part of me that I am so lost but manage to keep up appearances.
    Sure do miss him
    Larry’s wife

  12. Jennifer McKay said on May 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm ... #

    I think gaining a positive perspective is one of the hardest and important things to help you move forward. The person you lost will always be with you in their way. No matter what the situation, know that they would always want you to continue through your journey. The first year after a loss just sucks. If you do not do the work necessary to move forward year 2 can be excruciatingly worse. Right now I am 3 1/2 years out from losing my son at 13 months, 25 days to an undiagnosable illness. For the rest of my life I know that I will have down days where I will miss him with every ounce of my being, but I know that I am doing wonderful things for those in similar situations and I would not be doing this if it was not for my son showing me this way. HUGS for everyone!!

  13. Melissa F. said on August 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm ... #

    I scored a -29. I need to find help to help me learn to do these things. Its so hard to do with 2 kids, one with a fatal disease.

  14. NANCY said on March 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm ... #


  15. Kara said on March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm ... #

    Im in the same boat as Brooke. My husband committed suicide 15 months ago and it feels like I’m keeping busy with “gettin on with it” for the kids sake but not really dealing with my own emotions. I have to help them with theirs so I complete daily “tasks” but don’t really accomplish anything deeper than that. Hey say it takes time. I wish we have a fast forward button because this sucks

  16. gracy said on March 16, 2012 at 4:56 am ... #

    Lost my mom after I tried suicide feel numb n I cry everynight um the lowest on the score I can’t live without her.

  17. Alisha said on March 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm ... #

    Gracy, thank you for using our forum. Hopefully you have been able to find additional resources on this site to provide you with support. We will be contacting you to see if there are other local resources that we can provide you with to help you cope with the loss of your mom. If you do not already have it, there is a Prevention Hotline number that can be called 24/7. It is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  18. sam said on April 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm ... #

    i lost my mum 2 years in may, im 22 and my sisters 12, she had cancer, we knew it was happening for months before, but my sister didnt, shes with my gran and so unhappy, mad because just now has it hit me my mums no longer here! my dad died 18 years ago and o feel so alone!!!

  19. Alexander Risten said on August 25, 2012 at 10:24 am ... #

    Good day Patti. I found your quiz by chance but it is very interesting. I am writing a short book on grief and I would like to have your permission to use it as an addendum to the book. I believe it can help a lot of people. I would be grateful if you allow me this honor.

  20. mohar chattopadhyay said on April 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm ... #

    Hello,I have the number below 12 in your quiz. It
    means that I am very much bounded by my loss.
    I am in great sadness. Your quiz is right. I am from
    India and the died person was a dearest budy of mine.
    He was my only boyfriend but some times I used
    to become his mother.He was a famous guy in our
    country so many peoples were jealous to him,
    they did many dirty things to him.Belive me he
    hurted by them but he had a great power to forgive.
    He died by a broken heart, and alas! he was really
    neglected by those who were socalled close to him.
    Now I am sitting with an angry broken heart.
    We were in contact for 20years.Our contact was
    more than physical.It was very real but sweet as
    a fairy tail. I loved him as a kid. I avoid almost all
    known people after his death but dont know why
    I’m talking with unknowns like you.often I feel that
    I am also dead.I am not alive.My ghost is living inside
    my body.anyway thank you for reading my
    story.It may be boring.

  21. Melissa Turner said on July 31, 2013 at 8:19 am ... #

    I lost my only child to an accidental overdose on 5/20/08, it is now 8/1/13. Over five years and I feel the loss more each day. She was a beautiful 15 and half year old, and I can’t seem to forgive myself for not knowing some how and saving her, I had one sister tell me it was my fault, shortly after her passing, she didn’t have to say what I already felt, there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t pray that God will bring me home to her, up all night again missing her with what’s left of my shattered heart. I lost my Dad, my Daughter, andmy Mom all ina 4 year period, I have 2 older brothers & sisters but no one would know it. I just want to hold my daughter, hear her laugh, I have don’t want to

  22. Katie said on November 11, 2013 at 12:47 am ... #

    I’m trying to cope with the loss of my buddy. I hung out with him everyday and he was always there for me. But he told me he always loved me then he slit his throat looking me straight in the eyes. It’s hard to cope with that. I loved him too but never thought he’d like me the way I like him. He gave me his favourite bandana over the summer. Now, I wear it everyday and cry myself to sleep every night. My bf doesn’t know I cry myself to sleep every night or even that I still cut

  23. Katie said on November 11, 2013 at 12:49 am ... #

    BTW, my buddy died on 16 August 2013

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