When we are younger, we’re just trying to make it through our adolescence and early adulthood, which requires some trial and error. However, life tends to become a bit more steady when we grow older, which means we have more time to ask ourselves some important life questions. As we become more responsible and mature, it can be useful to take a step back and look at what areas of our life need work and which are going more smoothly, whether it’s about our health, our relationships, our career, or our overall wellbeing.
“Part of being a grown woman entails not only taking control of your life in general, but also taking full ownership of your health,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. “Every grown woman needs to make their health top priority and fully comprehend the dire impact of neglecting their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. There comes a point in your adult life when you need to ask yourself some very crucial questions and honestly reflect upon how certain decisions may ultimately change the trajectory of your life, for better or worse.”
There’s no real definition for when you’ve become a “grown-ass” women, but if you want to start working on living your best life, pay attention to these 31 questions every grown ass women should be asking herself.
An important element of living a healthy life is understanding what medical conditions your family members have or had. “From siblings and parents to aunts, uncles and grandparents, it is important for you to learn what health issues your family has because these could impact your health as well,” says Dr. Jennifer Caudle over email. It’s important to pay attention to particular issues that could be genetic, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and more.
“It is important to see your doctor for a check-up at least once a year,” says Caudle. “Many people only go to the doctor when they are sick, but it’s also important to go to the doctor when you are well for check-ups. These visits allow you and your doctor to address your preventive care, from getting blood work to immunizations and beyond.”
They may have seemed less of a big deal when you were younger, but you may have some bad habits that could end up catching up to you sooner than you thought. “Key examples include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, not wearing a seatbelt, engaging in unsafe sexual practices, binge eating, or engaging in self-harm,” says Scott.
Protecting your skin from sun exposure does more than just fight off wrinkles — it’s important to help prevent skin cancer. “The most important skin related health issue that every women in their 20’s and 30’s should be very mindful of is sun protection, including women with darker skin types who often feel that they don’t need sunscreen,” says dermatologist William Kwan, MD over email. “The reality is that anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin type.” A good place to start: Sunscreen.
Part of looking out for your health involves doing a skin check, both regularly at home and annually with a dermatologist. “Skin cancer checks are important because when caught early, skin cancer is generally easier to treat and can be highly curable,” says Dr. Sejal Shah, Board Certified Dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, over email.
Saying you’re too tired to go to the gym one day is understandable, but what are your excuses that have been affecting you long term? “We sometimes make decisions that essentially sabotage our efforts to remain healthy,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “It’s important to stop making those excuses for yourself and take the positive steps forward to really take control of your health.”
Are you getting enough exercise? “Medical professionals will tell you that exercise is the key to longevity,” says Dr. Bill Dorfman over email. Regular exercise is important even if you’re not trying to lose weight. Being physically active can help fight off heart disease, diabetes, depression, sleep problems, and more, according to Mayo Clinic.
You don’t want to spend your whole life trying to get rid of your love handles or hating the skin you are in. “Bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” says psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish over email. “It can be a life challenge for some women to accept themselves, flaws and all.”
It’s good to take a step back and look and what is causing you stress or anxiety. “Stress has an undeniable negative impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “Stress has been linked to early aging, various chronic medical conditions, and even premature death. Learning how to cope with the stressors in your life is essential to improve your overall health status.”
Once you figure out your stress, the next step is making sure you’re managing it. “It’s important to have a great ‘tool kit’ for psychological wellbeing,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly over email. “A great ‘wellbeing kit’ includes a good support system like friends, family, or a therapist, centering practices like meditation, yoga, and journaling, and self-soothing techniques such as warm baths, hot showers, pedicures, walks, etc.”
Are their lingering, leftover parts of your life that are interfering with the here and now? “Let’s face it, baggage is part of life,” says Dorian Crawford, PsyD over email. “But, we get to choose how light or heavy that load is, and how long we will haul it around. It is not the case that old wounds just die away if we stuff them down hard enough. Festering problems eventually turn up.” If there are things that have happened to you that are holding you back from being the best you, then it’s time to work on that.
Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning. “Are you adequately mentally stimulated? Learning a new skill or language can be invigorating and keeps our brains working,” says career counselor Lynn Berger over email. Look for activities that challenge the way you think if you feel stuck in a rut.
It’s OK if you don’t have your dream job yet, but since we spend many hours of our life working, you don’t want to feel stuck somewhere where you’re miserable, or you’ll suffer. “Almost everyone finds certain small aspects of work a bit tedious, but if a woman dislikes the bulk of her work (or her workplace), serious physical and psychological ramifications may occur over time,” says Manly. “As such, it’s vital that you take a serious look at what you want and need from their work. If a work setting is negative or unfulfilling, it’s important to take action to improve the situation— including searching for a new job or vocation if need be.”
If you are trying to move forward in your career, it’s useful to take a look at how your everyday actions could influence that trajectory. “Every choice we make will have some significant consequence,” says career counselor Roy Cohen over email. “Although spontaneity may make life a little more interesting, it may also add complications that redefine what you are free to pursue. Quitting a job without a backup plan may feel right in the moment, but it will almost always raise tough questions about maturity and commitment later on.” Work doesn’t have to be everything, but you want to set yourself up for a positive present and future.
You don’t have to have your whole future set out, but goals — both big and small — can help create some direction in your life. “It’s easy to get stagnant in life when goals don’t exist or when important life goals are left to wither and die,” says Manly. “It can be so helpful to pause at least twice a year to check on life goals.” Putting them on paper can also help: Research from Dominican University found that people who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who didn’t write them down.
We tend to put off or ignore certain tasks because we feel we don’t have time for them, we prioritize other things, or we don’t want to face the reality. This could be anything from an unusual symptom in your body or a conversation with a friend you have been dreading. “Don’t keep putting things off,” says internist Kristine Arthur, MD over email. “It can be scary to address worrisome symptoms, but the sooner you do it, the more likely you will have a better outcome.”
“Being a mature woman means achieving a level of growth that includes consistent self-improvement,” says Nikole Benders-Hadi, Psychiatrist at Doctor On Demand over email. “By challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone and do things that scare you, not only do you create incredible memories, but you also prevent stagnation. Even if you don’t initially succeed in the way you expected, keep trying and learning along the way.”
You might be spending a lot of time with your partner, your friends, or maybe even kids, but do you give yourself alone time to regroup and rejuvenate? “Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to be with yourself and chill,” says Walfish. “We are so busy in our day-to-day routines that we neglect to realize we often become preoccupied with listening to the voices, needs, and demands of others around us. We often automatically forfeit or push aside our own feelings, needs, and wants. During these 15 minutes of chill time, it is our opportunity to tune in, regroup, and connect with our true self.”
The older you get, the more responsibilities you likely have, but it’s okay to take the time to care of yourself. Think to yourself: How can I nurture my body more? “A ‘Me Day’ is an essential component to any self nurturing,” says Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB/GYN over email. “It lowers stress, makes you feel alive and beautiful.” Whether it’s aromatherapy, shopping, a day at the spa, or a big bowl of ice cream, choose what feels good to you, and do it.
On the flip side, you don’t want to spend too much time alone, and you want to make sure you’re getting your share of human interaction. Socializing can have a number of health benefits, including better protection against depression and anxiety, better physical health, and even lowered risk of dementia, according to Psychology Today.
Who you spend time with matters as well. “Perhaps in high school we hung out with certain kids because they were cool,” says Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT over email. “As a grown ass woman, let that go and focus on who makes you feel good. When spending time with this person, do they lift yo up or make you feel insecure and bad about yourself? If so, let them go. You are grown up now and don’t have to repeat high school.”
“If you can’t be yourself in your relationship, that is probably a red flag of some sort,” says Thompson. “Of course, when you are first getting to know each other, you don’t want to air your dirty laundry, but over time you want to make sure you are being yourself, whether in your friendships or romantic partnership. Not being yourself leads to unhappiness and resentment down the road.”
Ask yourself, “What are things I am doing only because I think I ‘should’ be doing them, mostly out of obligation?” Sometimes we say yes to things that actually bring us down and drain us of our energy. “When we take a look at a typical week, we can make note of anything that we can say no to in order to create healthier boundaries,” says life coach Nancie A. Vito over email.
“Our brain often wants to focus on the negative and what we feel is not going well,” says Vito. “This can cause us to ruminate and compare ourselves to others. When we take time to reflect on what we feel is going well, we can take steps to retrain our brain to remember the positives.”
Learning to understand what’s going on in our mind and body is an important part of growing up. “Am I not sleeping well, so I drink a little too much wine to help me drift off at night? You could be experiencing anxiety and using alcohol to soothe your restless body and racing mind,” says Crawford. Instead of rushing to unhealthy options to feel more even-keeled or relaxed, try looking inward and asking yourself if the butterflies in your stomach are actually trying to tell you something about what’s going on internally. If you can’t figure it out on your own, it can help to work with a therapist.
“The day-in-day-out world can pick you up on its current and you can ride that wave for many years, not even noticing that time — and opportunity — could be passing you by,” says Crawford. “There truly is no time like the present.” If you want something, consider making connections that will get you to that place, no matter the goal.
Every so often, it’s good to think about what brings you happiness — because after all, what is life for? “When we take time to think about what brings us joy, we can make a conscious effort to add those things to our lives,” says Vito. “For example, do you love to paint but haven’t done it in years? Carve out time to do those things that make time seem to standstill.”
Learn More at Bustle