Putting yourself first is not an optional extra! It’s essential to avoid burnout and keep yourself happy and healthy. And putting yourself first doesn’t mean you disregard the people you care about in your life. On the contrary, putting yourself first gets you in much better shape for having positive, mutually-supportive relationships with your partner, family, friends, and colleagues.
Getting into the habit of prioritizing yourself takes a bit of practice. Here are some things to keep in mind while building the healthy habit of putting yourself first.
1. Be true to yourself
Remember what Shakespeare said: “To thine own self be true.” That’s the key to self-care. Listen to your heart, to your intuition, and do what feels right for you.
2. Commit to yourself
View this post on Instagram
Self care tip: Ask for your “juice.” In your quiet time, take an assessment of your life. If you realize you are out of balance physically, mentally, or spiritually, make a plan for what you need to achieve better balance, then ask for it (kindly), from yourself, your family, and your workplace. When a toddler figures out what he needs, he asks for it until he gets it! “I want juice, I want juice! I want juice!” Be more like a toddler and ask for your “juice”!
Committing to yourself means you’re no longer on the bottom of your priority list. It means acknowledging that you deserve some time out and nurturing too. And it’s not a zero-sum game. Prioritizing your needs doesn’t mean doing it at the expense of others. It does mean having a more balanced approach to life and treating your needs and desires as equally valid.
3. Say no
Learn to say no to things that are not important to you, are not in your best interest, or for which you don’t have the energy. Be clear in your mind about what you are prepared to do for other people and where that boundary is. Practice saying no to low stakes requests like ‘can I have another cookie,’ and you’ll be better prepared to refuse bigger requests like hosting the family Christmas.
4. Delete guilt
Life is simply too short to feel guilty for not being able to make everyone happy. Don’t prevaricate or send mixed messages. Feeling guilty hands your power over to the other person and gives them leverage to get what they want. Be kind but clear about the boundaries you have set and leave it at that.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re the go-to person for everyone else, you may find it hard to ask for help yourself. That goes doubly so for perfectionists! Learn to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, ask for help where you need it, and practice receiving it with gratitude.
Developing the habit of putting yourself first will is a best practice. You will have more time to do the things you want to do, and you won’t feel resentful at being overburdened. As a result, you will see improved relationships built on honesty and clear boundaries. You will have more energy and be less stressed. Self-care is an investment in your health and happiness, and it’s worth starting that investment today!