If You Want to Improve Your Life, Prioritise Yourself First
Beyoncé said it best all the way back in 2003.
“Me, myself, and I, that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out.”
The only person you will be around 24/7 is yourself. And as such, you need to make sure to prioritise your needs. Just like the safety advice on an airplane, you must secure your own air mask on a plane before helping anyone else.
But between work, family, friends, and other commitments, it can be hard to make the time to do things that make you feel good.
So, in this article, we’re going to discuss the unmissable benefits that prioritising yourself can bring, as well as strategies you can implement in your life to do so.
Why is it so hard to prioritise yourself?
We live in a society where we’re expected to account for every second of our lives and shamed if we aren’t being productive. And so, it’s no wonder we make excuses as to why we can’t take the time to prioritise ourselves. Here are some of the most common reasons people don’t practice self-care and prioritise themselves.
- Misunderstanding what self-care means
- Time commitments
- Feeling guilty or selfish for taking time for yourself
- Not feeling worthy of self-care
- Mental health disorders that cause low mood such as depression
- Societal expectations on women to put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own (maternal, caregiver role)
- Unrealistic expectations of productivity
Think about the excuses you make about why you cannot prioritise yourself. Do you recognise any of the above in your own thinking?
The benefits of prioritising yourself
Prioritising yourself is a necessity. Without it, you can’t hope to maintain the energy you need to get through the day. So, what are the benefits of self-care?
Self-care improves your mental wellbeing
When you neglect your basic needs such as nutritious eating and a decent night’s sleep, you begin to run yourself down. Over time, this wreaks havoc on your physical and mental health.
As a consequence, you start to find life harder to deal with, causing decreased enjoyment in the activities you love, and low mood thanks to a change in serotonin levels.
By practising self-care, you are able to protect your mood and keep your mental wellbeing at a stable, positive level.
Prioritising yourself decreases stress
Stress is one of the biggest problems facing us individually in modern, western society. Not only does it cause us distress emotionally, but it can also cause a host of physical illnesses such as high blood pressure and excessive stress on vital organs that can lead to disastrous consequences if not treated.
And so, keeping your stress levels down is crucial to your health. And self-care is the number one way to achieve that.
Prioritising yourself helps you look after others better
As we previously mentioned, we often feel the responsibility to put others’ needs ahead of our own. We’ve been conditioned to believe that this selfless act is the right thing to do. And certainly, if you have young children or people that depend on your help, a good portion of your time will be spent making sure they are ok.
However, think about it this way. If you want to go swimming but fail to put water in the pool first, you can’t swim. Same goes for helping others. If you neglect your own needs, you won’t have the capability to look after those that need you.
Self-care helps you recharge your batteries
It’s impossible for any human being to be constantly on the go without taking the time to recharge. And that extends beyond sleep. While it’s an important part of regaining energy, humans also need connection and enjoyment for basic wellbeing.
Prioritising yourself will help you ensure you get these elements into your life so you have the energy to go after the goals you want.
Prioritising yourself improves your overall work performance
It seems counter-intuitive that doing less work will improve your work performance. But it’s true! Our brains only have a finite amount of hours we can fully concentrate on deep work each day, which is approximately four hours. After this, the same amount of work will take a significant increase in energy to do, causing fatigue.
Allowing yourself the time to embrace self-care, connect with friends and nature, and enjoy life without feeling guilty for not doing work will ultimately benefit your productivity.
How to make yourself a priority
Now that we know why you need to prioritise yourself, what are some great steps you can implement in your life to achieve this?
Schedule at least 15 minutes of “me-time” every day
Self-care isn’t something to shoehorn in whenever you find a free moment. Because, let’s be honest, if you aren’t in the business of making time for yourself, you’ll make excuses not to.
Instead, you need to treat your “me-time” as an important time block in your calendar, just as you would for work meetings.
This might be first thing in the morning, right before bed, halfway through the day…wherever it makes sense in your day. It will probably vary from day to day depending on the types of self-care activities you choose.
Eat nutritious food that makes you feel good
You don’t have to eat the perfect, balanced meal to give yourself the nutrition you need. Instead, focus on finding the food that makes you feel good physically and mentally.
And don’t believe the diet mentality that food is only for nutrition. There is a scientifically proven link between food and emotion, and it’s ok to enjoy your food too! As long as it doesn’t hurt your physical health, it’s all good!
Repeat after me:
“I am allowed to take time for myself. I deserve to take time for myself.”
You’re only human and you need time to recharge your batteries and do the things that make you happy. And there is no reason for you to feel guilty about it.
So next time you have doubts about taking time for yourself, repeat the phrases above, and let go of any guilt you may feel.
Limit your social media usage
Scrolling social media can be used as a time to stop working and chill out, it’s true. But is it really benefitting you?
For most people, increased exposure to social media harms their mental wellbeing more than it helps. So consider giving yourself a time limit on how much you use it.
This in itself is an act of self-care.
Get outside and connect with nature
It can be hard to muster the energy to get outside and breath fresh air. And after the pandemic left many of us house-bound either working from home or as a consequence of early restrictions, it’s easier than ever to make excuses not to get out. Plus, not everyone is lucky to live in a place that has access to outside space such as a garden or balcony.
But without that connection to the outside world, your mental health will start to decline and you may experience low mood and energy.
So, even if you just walk down the road and back, make an effort to get out of the house.
Make time for friends and family
Do you find yourself cancelling plans to do extra work? Stop. Now. Work-life balance is vital to your mental health, which means social connection is a must.
The “hustle” mentality is grossly overrated, with many people believing that you have to work hard 24/7 to achieve success. In actuality, a non-stop work pattern will stop you in your tracks in the future.
So call a friend and set up a date!
We have a lot to thank diet culture for. Not. Most people are under the impression that for exercise to be worthwhile, it has to push you and be hard. And it has to make you stronger, leaner, lose weight, etc.
But the only thing you need exercise for is to move your body, And it doesn’t have to be conventional either. 15 minute solo dance party, zorbing with friends, lunchtime gossip walk with your work bestie, doing house chores… anything that gets your body moving. That is the goal.
Your time is now
Forget the excuses in your mind stopping you from prioritising yourself and partaking in self-care. They only serve to keep you feeling bad about a basic human need that you need to fulfil.
Instead, start experimenting with different self-care activities and find what works for you, and then make it a habit to implement it into your daily routine.
Not only will you see your energy and mental wellbeing improve, but your loved ones will thank you for it too!
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