With all the pressures of everyday life and the narrative in society that we're not supposed to be selfish or put ourselves first, it can be hard to make ourselves a priority.
Add to that the farfetched goals of achieving a work-life balance, and it's no wonder 70% of people experience imposter syndrome and feel like they're not succeeding in either their professional or personal life.
But here's the thing: You cannot pour from an empty cup. Making yourself a priority is not selfish; it's essential for your well-being and a healthy life. It doesn't mean you need to be first in line for everything or that you have to say 'yes' to every request. Taking care of yourself is an act of self-love and compassion, not egoism.
So what are some practical tips for making yourself a priority in your life? Here are some to get you started:
Creating boundaries is an essential part of taking care of yourself and making yourself a priority. Boundaries are the limits you set in order to protect your own well-being, energy, and time. Setting boundaries gives you a sense of control over your life and helps you determine what kind of activities, conversations, and relationships work for you.
When creating boundaries, think about what is best for your mental and physical health. When does the need to please others take precedence over taking care of yourself? Once you answer this question, it will be easier for you to say 'no' when necessary and stick to your boundaries.
Some ways to create boundaries include:
- Saying 'no' to activities and commitments that don't align with your values
- Disconnecting from technology and digital devices during certain hours of the day
- Limiting the amount of time spent on any one activity or task
- Establishing clear communication with others about what is acceptable behavior
Practice Self-Care Activities
Self-care activities are key to making yourself a priority. The goal is to make sure you have quality time for yourself every day that allows you to relax, reflect and recharge. Make sure the activities are something you enjoy doing or at least don’t dread.
Self-care activities include anything from taking a hot bath or reading a book to going for a walk or writing in a journal. Anything that brings you peace and joy is an excellent way to take care of yourself and make sure you're making time for yourself.
In a study by Mind, 95% of people said they felt happier and more relaxed after taking time for self-care activities like going for a walk or spending time outside. Similarly, a study by BMJ found that self-care activities were linked to improved well-being and resilience.
Speak Positively To Yourself
Oftentimes, the biggest obstacle to making ourselves a priority is the voice in our head that tells us we're not good enough and can’t do anything right. Learning how to speak positively to yourself is an important step towards taking care of yourself.
It can be as simple as reframing your thoughts whenever you catch yourself being overly critical or pessimistic. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, shift your focus to the positive. Take a few moments to think about what you're grateful for and how far you've come, no matter how small the progress might be.
If you wouldn't say something to a friend, don't say it to yourself either. Speak to yourself like you would an encouraging friend or mentor who genuinely wants you to succeed. Here are some examples of positive affirmations to get you started:
- I am worthy and capable of achieving my goals
- I trust myself to make the best decisions for me
- I choose to focus on the good in my life
- I believe in myself and all that I can achieve
Don't Feel Guilty About Taking Time For Yourself
It's natural to feel guilty or selfish when you set aside time for yourself. We live in a world where taking care of others and putting their needs before our own is seen as commendable and something to strive for. But that doesn't mean you must sacrifice your well-being at the altar of selflessness.
Making yourself a priority doesn't mean you're abandoning your responsibilities or letting others down. On the contrary, taking care of yourself can make you more productive and efficient in your work and relationships. It's simply about finding balance and making sure that you don't neglect your own needs in the process.
Remember: you don't have to justify taking time for yourself. You're just as deserving of your own love and care as anyone else, so don't be afraid to make yourself a priority every once in a while.
Nourish Your Body
Your body is your temple, so make sure you take good care of it. Eating healthy and nutritious meals can improve energy levels, mood, immunity, and overall well-being. It's important to give your body the fuel it needs to function properly.
On top of that, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep are essential for feeling good. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It's also important to get regular physical activity since it not only has physical health benefits but can also improve mental health.
Taking care of your body is an act of self-love and will give you the energy and strength needed to make yourself a priority.
Embrace Your Imperfections
As cliché as it may sound, loving yourself starts with embracing your imperfections and flaws. This means accepting who you are without judgment or comparison to others.
Rather than focusing on what you don't have or can't do, focus on your strengths and the things that make you unique. Celebrate your victories no matter how small they might be, and forgive yourself for any mistakes you make.
Learning to accept yourself, warts and all, is key to making yourself a priority. Once we learn how to be kinder and more compassionate towards ourselves, it's much easier to prioritize our own needs and well-being.
Don't Be Shy To Ask For Help
No matter how hard you try, you can't do it all alone, and that's okay. Being willing to reach out and ask for help is an important part of taking care of yourself. Whether it’s asking a friend for emotional support or your boss for extra time off work, don't be afraid to speak up.
We all need some kind of help from time to time, and asking for it does not make you a burden. Having a strong support system of friends and family can be invaluable during tough times, and just knowing that someone is there for you can be reassuring.
There's joy in knowing that you have people who care about you and want to help, so don't be afraid to accept it. Some ways you can ask for help include:
- Talking to friends and family
- Seeking out a therapist or counselor for emotional support
- Getting help with everyday tasks like grocery shopping or errands
- Hiring a professional for a job you can't do on your own.
Don't Procrastinate, Schedule
Have you been wanting to hit the gym for months, but something always seems to come up? Or, maybe you just keep putting off things that are important for your well-being, like taking a break or visiting the doctor.
Whatever it is, don't let yourself get distracted by other tasks or obligations. Instead, make sure you carve out time for yourself and get organized. Scheduling can help keep you on track, so try to make it a habit.
Creating a plan of action with specific goals and deadlines makes it easier to stay focused and motivated. For example, you can set aside a few hours every weekend for self-care or plan to take a yoga class on Monday evenings.
Consider Starting a Gratitude Journal
This may seem like a small thing, but a gratitude journal can have powerful effects on your well-being. Writing down three to five things you are grateful for every day can help create an attitude of appreciation. Not only will this make you feel better overall, but it could also help shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones.
When we practice gratitude, we become more aware of the abundance and beauty that exists in our life. By focusing on the good, we can start to appreciate ourselves more and help make ourselves a priority.
Some other ways to cultivate gratitude include:
- Spending time with people you love
- Volunteering your time or resources
- Taking a few moments to be still and breathe
- Showing appreciation for the little things.
Making yourself a priority can seem daunting at first, but it's essential for finding balance in life. Remember, self-care isn't selfish; it's an important part of taking care of your well-being and staying healthy emotionally, physically, and mentally.
So take some time every day to follow these simple steps and make yourself a priority. You deserve it!