Self-care is vital for your mental and physical health. Though it sounds like a manageable task, but it is usually hard to practice. Most people are always trying to please others and putting others first, forgetting that they are also important. However, you cannot give what you do not have and you should consider putting yourself first more often. How many times have you heard these two phrases, ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup’ or ‘Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting others’?
But, what does it mean to put yourself first?
Many people confuse putting yourself first with being selfish, but this is far from the truth. As the first saying implies, you should fill your cup first, then share the excess with others. It involves being kind to yourself the same way you are to others. It is only after you take care of yourself that you can be available to help someone else. To help you start prioritizing yourself and live your life to the fullest, here are a few reasons why putting yourself first is good for you.
Why you should put yourself first
- You are important
The people around you, your family, friends, and even colleagues depend on you, and thus you are important to them. But most of all, one of the best reasons why you should put yourself first more often is that you are important to YOU. You will not be doing any good to anyone if you have burnout, are depleted of energy, irritable, or even sick because you are spreading yourself too thin. So learn how to put yourself first because you are important to yourself and others.
- You are responsible for your happiness
Your happiness is in your own hands. However, it is difficult for you to be happy if you are always at everyone’s beck and call and rarely find time to yourself. Your happiness is a good reason why you should put yourself first more often. Learn to say no and create time to spend on things you enjoy doing to lead a happier life. Start living for yourself and make decisions that make your life better because life is too short to be spent on things that do not make you happy.
- Putting yourself first teaches others how they should treat you
Growing up, we are taught to put others first. It is not a bad thing to do, except that this might result in you neglecting yourself or not knowing your worth. If you do not know your self-worth, others will treat you the same way. They will take advantage of your kindness and take you for granted. The opposite is true. If you honor your needs first, others will think twice before trying to walk all over you.
- You create and maintain meaningful relationships
The people who love you genuinely will stick by your side no matter what. Cut off those who only drain your energy and add no value to your life. Your true friends and family will notice when you are mentally or physically exhausted and irritable. They will want you to prioritize your happiness and health. If that means spending more time with you, taking a vacation, or just spending time alone away from them, they will understand. Thus, by learning how to put yourself first, you get an opportunity to create meaningful relationships.
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- You learn to accept yourself and others
When you start spending more time on yourself, you learn more about yourself. You discover your strengths and weaknesses. You learn to love yourself, faults and all. This makes you learn to love and accept others better.
- Putting yourself first improves your health
Always prioritizing others and having no time for yourself eventually takes a toll on your mental and physical health. While putting others first, you have no time for self-care activities such as exercise, hence leading to weight gain. You may also become stressed which could then lead to the body having a weak immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. You have to learn how to put yourself first and take time to replenish your energy or you will end up stressed, fatigued, and burnt out.
How to put yourself first
- Discover your Purpose
As Mark Twain said, there are two important days in your life; the day you are born, and the day you find the reason why. Having a clear purpose in life helps you recognize the things you need to do to get to where you want and those you do not have to do. You have the reins to your life, and thus the direction it goes is entirely up to you. With this in mind, you learn to say no to things that do not make your life better. Thus, to learn how to put yourself first, start by defining your purpose in life and how you want to get to your destination.
- Me time
As stated earlier, your happiness should come first. The demands of modern-day life leave little to no time to unwind and have peace of mind. One of the best ways to put yourself first, even though your life is hectic, is by allocating regular ‘me time’ in your schedule. This is not just time spent on your own; it is spent reconnecting with your body and mind. When learning how to put yourself first, you take anything from a few minutes to some hours to recharge your batteries. You can spend your me time meditating, exercising, reading a book, taking a walk, hiking or exploring your creative side, napping, or anything else you love doing.
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- Set priorities
Putting yourself first does not mean that you get to do what you want all the time. It means that you put yourself higher on the list of priorities. After all, the success of all the other things on the list depends on you being mentally and physically healthy to do them. When learning how to put yourself first, you need to become more organized. Start by making a list of things you need to do and when you need to complete them. List them in order of importance and urgency.
- Ask for help
In some cases, it can be difficult to put yourself first without neglecting someone else. For example, when taking care of a newborn, children, or an elderly/sick person who is not in a position to take care of themselves. However, you are only human and there is only so much you can take. In such cases, asking for assistance if things become overwhelming is the recommended way to put yourself first. Ask your partner or hire a babysitter to help with taking care of your baby. If looking after a sick or elderly family member is taking all of your time, you could hire an in-home caregiver to help.
- Re-frame your mindset
Do you feel guilty whenever you say no to someone? You should not feel that way and that is why you need to learn how to put yourself first. Instead, realize that by saying no to them, you are actually saying yes to yourself. However, even as you say no, you should learn assertive communication so that when you say it, people know that you mean it. Nonetheless, there are times you should say yes as well, especially when it comes to new opportunities, risks, and adventures.
Putting yourself first is not the same as being selfish. You are expressing self-love, which will benefit you and others. So learn how to put yourself first and give yourself a break to start living your life to the fullest. If you don’t put yourself first, who will? It is up to you to save yourself. So put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others!