I’ve always thought that putting myself first was one of the most selfish things in the world. In fact, I have been particularly proud of my selflessness. It had always seemed like an admirable trait. Lately I’ve realized how wrong I’ve been. I’m starting to realize that self care is far more important.
When we take care of others
I’ve spent most of my life honing the fine art of putting myself last. I grew up with a brother with cerebral palsy and a mother battling cancer and the many side effects of the severe radiation that saved her life. It seemed natural that their needs would always come first. I thought it was better for me to take care of them first.
This set me up for a pattern of constantly putting my needs last. Taking ‘me-time’ or putting my needs first always came tinged with guilt. Self care took a back seat.
It’s important to take care of yourself first
Now in my mid-forties, I’ve come to a completely astounding realization. Selflessness isn’t serving me or the people I love most. I have two young children, a traveling husband and a busy consulting practice. It’s very easy to put my needs last and to be honest, there are times when it’s a necessity.
But when I don’t even think about my needs, I’m not helping others out at all. Even when I have a lot on the go, there are also plenty of opportunities for me to get my needs met. I realized that self care was of the utmost importance.
I learned to take care of myself
When I put myself first, everyone benefits. Doing little things to take care of myself lead to me being happier. And it doesn’t take much – making the time to have breakfast, squeezing in a yoga class, calling a friend or taking a bath are little ways I’ve been taking better care of myself over the past few months.
When I make time for self care, I show up to my relationships a far better version of myself than when I’m overwhelmed and stressed out. I’m a better mother, wife, consultant. I’m happier so I’m far more pleasant to deal with, no matter our relationship.
Now, instead of loading the dishwasher after the kids have gone to bed, I take a bath. When my kids are calling for me and I’m in the middle of a conversation or a particularly good book, I tell them to wait. These are very small actions but they make a really big difference because they are sending a message to all of us (myself included) – my needs matter too.
I have got to take care of me!!
How about you? What do you need to do to start putting yourself first? What can you do to give yourself the time, to allow yourself precious moments to take care of yourself?
If you’re anything like I was, you might need to adjust your mindset. When we can stop thinking of ourselves as selfish for putting our needs first, we’re way more likely to actually do it.
Once I could equate taking care of myself with being a better mother, consultant and spouse, it became much easier to put build some time in my schedule for my needs.
5 simple tips to self care and putting yourself first
Here are a few suggestions for how to put yourself first in the midst of the whirlwind of everyone else’s needs:
Give yourself permission
Because it was so counter to every cell in my being, I needed to give myself permission to put my needs first. Whose permission do you need? It turns out that I just needed my own. I needed to be able to say, ‘yes, what I want and need is important, and I’m going to do this for myself.’
It’s still a challenge but I keep giving myself permission on a daily basis and it works.
Remember what feeds your spirit
Most of us have been so busy looking after other people for so long that we’ve forgotten what we love to do. I didn’t sleep through the night for about five years and during that foggy sleep deprived time of young babies, I forgot what I loved to do.
Slowly I emerged from those years and I started to remember. We started having dance parties in the living room with the kids and I started taking baths and going for walks and meeting up with friends. Lately I’ve been going to yoga classes.
Take a few minutes to think about what you really love to do and then schedule one of those activities in to the next week.
Take small steps
Putting your needs first doesn’t mean you have to book yourself a week all alone in Mexico (although that does sound lovely). You can start with the smallest and simplest of actions – going for a walk, picking up a good book, taking a bath, making yourself a cup of tea.
Do the little things for yourself that you do for everyone else in your life. Once you feel comfortable with the small steps you’ve taken, you can work your way up to something bigger – maybe a night out with a friend or going to a full day workshop or building in daily exercise.
Schedule an activity with a friend so you’re more committed
I don’t know about you but I can find a lot of reasons not to leave my house these days, particularly if exercise is involved. If I’ve arranged to meet a friend, I’m way more likely to go to whatever it is I’ve planned to get to – a movie, a yoga class, an art opening.
Meeting up with a friend also makes me happier so I’m doubling the happiness effect by arranging to meet a friend while doing an activity that makes me happy.
Celebrate your small successes
It might seem silly to do but when we take a few minutes to celebrate our successes, we’re more likely to repeat them. Next time you do any little thing to take care of yourself, take a moment to notice it and pat yourself on the back.
Small wins lead to bigger wins as we build on our successes.
More blogs on self care and learning how to put yourself first
It’s not easy to make the decision to start putting yourself first and many of us are slightly resistant to it. Here are a couple of blogs that just might help you get started on practicing self care.
This post was written by Stephanie Innes-Berryman. You can find more of her awesome stuff at the link below!
I’d like to start a revolution, one where we stop putting ourselves last and realize that by putting ourselves first, everyone benefits. If you’d like to join me, come check out my website at www.stephanieberryman.com