Taking a Check Up from the Neck Up

We’re about a month into the semester. Most likely we’re all adjusting to the more stressful schedule, getting by on a little less sleep, maybe not eating quite as healthily as we did over the summer, and probably not as able to spend time with our loved ones as we’d like. On top of that, our academic success depends upon meeting the expectations of our professors, adapting to the leadership style of our new field instructors, and acclimating ourselves to the organizational culture of our placements. That’s a lot to accomplish!

Let’s face it, so much change and adaptation in such a short period of time can be more than a little stressful.  So, I’ve been asking myself, how can I get through this? And, how can I get one more ounce of learning out of all this? My answer is actually very simple, and it’s also my suggestion to all of you: Do all that you can to be present and engaged in the moment at hand by taking a “check up from the neck up”. Throughout the day, pause to weigh in on YOU – like the mini-MSE, do a mini Biopsychosocialspiritual assessment of yourself. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • Are you feeling any sensations in your body – tension in your neck, headache, nervous stomach?
  • Are you navigating through your situation with realistic core beliefs or struggling with anxious thoughts, grandiose thinking, or feeling looming doom?
  • Are you feeling included in the pack and appreciated by your peers or trying too hard to find your niche, clique and comrade?
  • Are you a restless creature casting about without solitude and grace for living the day before you, or have you taken the time to reflect on your  source of love and joy and peace that can transcend your fears and rejuvenate your soul?

Being mindful to ask and address these questions for ourselves will not only give us the enhanced resilience we need to succeed, it will also give us greater insight, empathy and experience for our work with others. When our clients come to us overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or full of fear we will be much better able to meet them where they are in that moment if we have learned to meet ourselves in our own moments. We will be better able to articulate deep empathic reflections to affirm and exhort them if we have done the same for ourselves. And we will be more effective in our use of self if we have cultivated the habit of self-reflection.

So, give it a try. When you finish reading this, pause and take a checkup from the neck up, and enjoy a more mindful moment getting in touch with yourself.

Blessings! ~mk

P.S. Here’s a photo I took this summer from inside a cypress dome in the Florida Everglades – one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been! Enjoy!



About Marguerite Keil

Ancora Imparo! To sweet endings, new beginnings and live long learning! I have now finished my third and final year of the UNC-MSW program and it has exceeded my expectations! I completed the first two years through the Winston Salem Distance Education program that was phenomenal and have now just finished an equally great year here on campus. Certainly I leave the program with more knowledge, but more importantly, I leave with more personal insight and a clearer sense of myself. But this is not the end - only a new beginning. In a few weeks I embark on a new career - not the one I envisioned with the full-time employer I had when I first enrolled. Instead, these years of academic training and field work have blazed a new path and opened new doors of opportunity. They have brought new people and a new scope of practice into my life. I owe a good part of this to the certificate program (Substance Abuse Certificate in my case), which is why I want to encourage others to pursue some certification or licensure along with their MSW. Yes, it does mean more work, but in the end I am quite sure you will be glad you did. And the experiences you share with those pursuing the same path will make your time at Carolina that much sweeter and memorable. Blessings! ~mk
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