When we think of safety, we often think of physical safety. We consider whether the doors are locked, the gates are closed, the candles are put out before we fall asleep, and whether we have any physical threats in our environment or neighborhood that require our attention. A type of safety that is often overlooked is psychological safety. Thankfully, you don’t need a mental health professional to help you figure out if you have psychological safety sometimes. You can use a 5 minute psychological safety audit to see whether it’s time to enlist some professional help as you make sure that you’re psychologically safe.

Before we can assess ourselves for psychological safety, we need to know what psychological safety means. At ccl.org, they define psychological safety as “the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. At work, it’s a shared expectation held by members of a team that teammates will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for sharing ideas, taking risks, or soliciting feedback.” Outside of the workplace, psychological safety means the same thing.

Although psychological safety can seem less important than the physical kind, the two are linked. When you feel secure on an emotional and psychological level, you’ll be able to make clear-headed choices that will lead to greater physical safety. For those who are in unsafe environments such as an unhealthy relationship that has escalated to the point of domestic violence or a high-crime neighborhood, psychological safety can build a foundation for some semblance of peace when physical safety seems out of reach.

While psychological safety self-assessments are not a replacement for mental health treatment or medical care, they’re a great way to check in with yourself after a hard week or a hard year and see what you might need. Because of the connection between mental health and physical health, some aspects of psychological safety may have to do with physical self-care. If you follow these tips for how to perform a 5 minute psychological safety audit on yourself, you’ll reap the benefits of being more in touch with your emotions and needs than you were before you did this informal assessment.

Keep Your Body Moving

Sometimes, when we feel emotionally stuck, it can be because we’ve been feeling physically stuck. A big part of doing a 5 minute psychological safety audit is seeing how your body feels. You can do this by performing a “body scan” technique where you relax and tune into your body parts from head to toe to see where there might be aches, pains, tension, or comfort. If you’ve seen the doctor and they’ve made recommendations for a treatment plan to get you moving again such as prescribing local rehabilitation therapy, you can take a few minutes to schedule those appointments and feel the weight of that pressing need lift from your shoulders.

Another psychological safety assessment idea is seeing how you feel about exercising. If exercise has been put on the back burner because you’ve been busy with school, work, or family obligations, it might be time to set aside a few minutes or an hour to get back into your workout routine. Even if you don’t have the time to do a full workout, some simple stretching or light cardio like a walk on your lunch break can do wonders for making you feel better on a physical and emotional level.

Invest in Speech and Articulation

Another component of a 5 minute psychological safety audit is making sure that your speech and language skills are strong. If you struggle with medical or psychological conditions that make it hard for you to speak and you want to improve on this struggle, you can schedule an appointment for speech-language treatment. Consider whether your problems related to speech are impacting your mental and emotional health.

If you feel poorly about not being able to speak or articulate well, you can try to remedy the problem with the help of specialists. Scheduling an appointment can be tough if you have a hard time speaking on the phone. Still, you can try to schedule an appointment through your provider’s website or see if you can schedule it in person where you can gesture, type, or use other alternative forms of communication to get your needs met.

Have Protective Equipment When You Go Out

As we know, conducting a 5 minute psychological safety audit includes considering whether you feel safe physically when you go outside. If you have a history of encountering abusive individuals or you simply want some extra protection to document your experiences in the event of an unsafe experience, you can buy one of the body-worn cameras available on the market as protective equipment. For self-defense, you can purchase self-defense tools, use alarm keychains, and take self-defense classes to learn safe ways to defend yourself in an unsafe situation. What’s more, you can install apps on your phone that share your location or safety risk with trusted loved ones if it makes you feel safer. Sometimes having these protections in place can make you feel safer, which will result in a sense of psychological safety.

While psychological safety means feeling and thinking safe thoughts, it can also mean being physically safe enough to relax. Leaving the home can feel like a vulnerable act to many people. For those who struggle to create a sense of psychological safety within themselves, going outside can feel like it throws up all of the red flags in our minds that lead us to think we’re in danger. Making a tangible plan for how we intend to keep ourselves safe can make our psychological safety level increase as our stress and anxiety around safety outside the home decrease.

Think of Ways to Exemplify for Your Kids

When you’re performing a 5 minute psychological safety audit on yourself, it can help to think about whether you’ve been taking care of yourself as well as you take care of your children. As a parent, taking care of yourself can fall to the wayside when your children’s wants and needs pile up. While your children’s wants and needs frequently come first as a parent, it’s still important to tend to yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup if you’re giving all of your energy, time, and resources to your children.

If your kids set a good example for you, it can pay to take a leaf from their book. When your kids schedule a cleaning with a pediatric dentist, you can give a call to your dentist to schedule a cleaning, too. When your kids eat healthy snacks or take a rest, you can eat a snack or rest, too. Even though you have to stay on top of caring for your kids and your household, you’ll want to take care of yourself so that you can have strong psychological safety and protect them physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Look Into Botox

Another aspect of the 5 minute psychological safety audit is considering your self-esteem and how good you feel about yourself. As we age, we sometimes feel like we’re not looking like ourselves anymore. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, taking some steps to change it can be healthy as long as it comes from a place of moderation and self-love. If there’s something about your face that’s bothered you for a long time, it may be time to schedule a consultation with the professionals. If your face feels a little gaunt or you want to lose some wrinkles, looking into facial filler options may be worthwhile. For long-term gripes about your face like having a crooked nose, scheduling a cosmetic surgery consultation may be in order.

If you’ve never had a “nose job,” you might wonder what it entails. As mayoclinic.com explains, ” Septoplasty (SEP-toe-plas-tee) is a surgical procedure to straighten the bone and cartilage dividing the space between your two nostrils (septum). When the septum is crooked, it’s known as a deviated septum.” It can sound painful and scary, but trusting the professionals to do their job is key when you’re getting cosmetic surgery. If this is truly what you need to feel psychologically safe, they’ll take that into consideration and try to make you comfortable if they’re good at their jobs. You can research the cosmetic surgeons in your area who specialize in your area of need so you find someone who comes with strong recommendations and positive reviews.

Get an Outlet for Emotional Conversations

A lot of people who complete the 5 minute psychological safety audit on themselves do so when they find that they’re missing an emotional connection in their lives. This is where relying on friends and family for greater emotional intimacy can be a useful tool to have in your toolbox. When your needs outweigh what your support system can provide in terms of emotional support, it may be time to look into options for therapy for families. If you don’t have mental healthcare providers in your area or you don’t feel comfortable going to an office for an emotional outlet, you can look into telehealth counseling options.

On top of finding a provider, you should consider how you intend to pay for it. If you know that you’ll need to find a provider that takes your insurance, you might have fewer options than if you’re willing to self-pay. Depending on your region, you may find that providers who take insurance have high caseloads. Alternatively, some areas have very few self-pay providers and have an abundance of options for those with insurance.

Before you commit to working with a therapist or psychologist, you should consider what you might like or need in a therapist. If you know that you want to work with a therapist who can use modalities that incorporate the expressive arts, you should look for art therapists and the like. If you want to see a therapist weekly, you should find a therapist who has the availability to see you every week. Asking a lot of questions and “interviewing” potential therapists through phone consultations can help you find one who will be a good fit. If your first therapist doesn’t work out, you can try to find another one by asking that therapist for references or doing some research on your own to find a better fit.

Manage Your Diet

One aspect of the 5 minute psychological safety audit that is often ignored is the role that diet plays in psychological safety. If you have a tough time eating due to digestive issues, this can wreak havoc on your mood and cause you to enlist gastroenterology services to further investigate the root cause of the problem. Likewise, if you need to get some dental fillings because you find that your teeth are sensitive due to cavities, you may find it harder to meet your dietary needs and notice shifts in your mood as your food intake destabilizes.

During your 5 minute psychological safety audit, you should think about your recent diet choices and how they might affect your mood. As health.clevelandclinic.org shares, “The best meal to enhance your mood is one that combines complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and colorful produce.” You’ll also want to eat a mix of fruits and vegetables for a wide range of nutrients. If you have specific dietary needs, you should consult with the appropriate medical professionals for guidance.

Ultimately, if you feel safe at work, home, school, and other settings to express yourself emotionally and intellectually, you probably feel pretty psychologically safe. On the other hand, if you feel that you’ll be undermined or criticized if you share your thoughts and feelings at work, home, school, or other environments, you probably feel psychologically unsafe. Psychological safety levels can come and go as your environment and circumstances change.

This is why it’s important to gauge your psychological safety levels regularly. Since the sense of psychological safety is subjective, you’re the only one who can decide for yourself that you feel psychologically safe. If you feel like you can’t openly express what you need to feel safe on a psychological level in a setting, you probably don’t feel psychologically safe there.