There is a cultural norm in the West, that the best (if not the only) lifestyle option to succeed in life, is to be seen as constantly working.
From personal experience, when I have said 'yes' too much and not taken time for myself, the result is often me becoming ill.
Learning to put yourself first is the most important aspect of self-care. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you take care of others?
This is the lesson that I have learned that has helped me to harness the positive lifestyle impact of self-care.
At first, it can feel incredibly daunting to put yourself first, especially as it is often accompanied by a feeling of guilt.
So, here are few tips to help on your journey to developing better self-care:
1. Create a work-life balance
Stress, often related to work, can take over your life if you aren’t careful.
Make sure to prioritise your tasks in order of importance. Remember that there are only so many hours in the day, so stick to your scheduled work time and don’t go over your self allocated working hours.
Take plenty of breaks and make sure to take some time out when things become overwhelming.
2. It’s ok to say no
You might say "yes" to family and friends when they ask for favours or need your help with something, without giving yourself a second thought.
And whilst this is a kind and caring attitude to have, when your own life is hectic, you may actually need to keep some of the time that you're giving away, to yourself.
From personal experience, I often take on other's problems and/or negative energies to help them, without considering my own. This can leave me feeling deflated and overwhelmed.
Don’t be afraid to say "another time" or that "you have a lot going right now". True friends will be understanding.
3. Schedule time out of your week to do something for you
Doing something you love can be massively beneficial to your wellbeing.
Order a takeaway, put on a facemask, have that nap...tell yourself that you deserve to look after yourself.
As cliché as it sounds, it’s very true. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion and you don’t need to ask anyone for permission to nurture your health and wellbeing.
4. Put in place boundaries
If you feel that a situation you’re in, whether that be in a relationship, friendship or workplace environment is turning toxic, take a step back and speak up about how you’re feeling.
Don’t second guess yourself. Assert your needs.
Remember that those who truly care about your wellbeing will appreciate you, listen to you and mostly likely agree that taking some time out from a stressful situation is worthwhile and doesn't require an apology.
If you’re looking for a sign to put yourself first, let this be it.
Take time out from a busy schedule to do the things you love, surround yourself with a group of people that have your back.
Life is too short to be stressed out all the time
Read Thandie's article here on how to set boundaries