How to Look After Yourself First
As we progress in our lives, it’s all too easy to let the demands of work, children and marriage come before our own personal needs. While obviously these things should not be neglected, oftentimes they become our sole focus at the expense of ourselves.
We aim to please and do, taking care of others while juggling a million things life throws at us. Although being a “super woman” can seem like a complimentary title, more often than not it can lead to super burn out.
It’s a common misconception that thinking of yourself before others is selfish. However, sometimes it’s necessary to put yourself first and take care of your needs before taking care of the needs of others. It’s also essential to surviving any hardships that may come your way.
You have to really know yourself and get in touch with your wellbeing in order to maintain your happiness. In short, your mind, body and spirit need to be in good shape before you can help nurture those of others.
One way to ensure you’re taken care of is by practicing self-love. This does not imply narcissism, but instead recognition of yourself as a beautiful, unique individual who deserves love, appreciation, comfort, and all the pleasures of a happy and healthy life.
Practicing self-love can be as simple as taking the time to say one complimentary thing to yourself every day, or even wearing a piece of clothing because you know you look good in it. In short, it’s a matter of making yourself feel good for you, not another person.
While self-love is meant to make you feel good internally, it doesn’t stop there. Fulfilling your basic physical needs is also a part of it.
Ensuring you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, feeding your body with nutritious food, physical activity and adequately hydrating are all part of self-love. So too are matters of self-acceptance.
Forgiving yourself for past mistakes and wrong-doings will take a weight off your shoulders. Let go of those feelings and views about yourself and the world that no longer serve you.
Schedule Me Time
It’s not easy to schedule time for yourself, especially with a 40-hour work week and children to take care of. However, if you make it a priority, you will find the time.
Even if it’s just 15 or 30 minutes a day of peace and quiet where you can do whatever you want or need to for yourself, it will do wonders for your spirit. You can take a short nap, read a book, meditate, draw, journal, take a walk, or even just veg out with your favorite TV show.
Whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself or gives you an extra boost, do it. Everyone else can wait.
Set Boundaries for Others
When you do schedule me time or something else that needs to be done during the day, be sure to set boundaries for others. This means no answering emails in the middle of yoga class, no phone calls when spending quality time with your kids, and no kids around when you are trying to meditate.
Leave your phone at home or in another room and schedule a babysitter or playdate if you need assurances you will not be bothered. Respect yourself and these boundaries and others will be forced to as well.
Learn to Say No
Probably the hardest part of putting your needs first is learning to say no. It’s easy to get caught up in aiming to please others and being everything to everyone, but the cost is to yourself and your needs.
When other people constantly come first, you are the one who suffers. If helping others is a priority in your life, either because it’s part of your job or it makes you feel good, do everyone a favor and take care of yourself.
Most importantly, stop feeling guilty for saying no. Knowing your limitations and honoring them is good for your mental and physical health. We’ve all had moments of feeling obligated to say yes to everything, but try to remember your time and resources are limited and valuable. It’s ok to pick and choose what you spend your time on and for whom.