Ready to dig deep?
Let's look at how you are at prioritizing YOU in your own life. If you're like most people, it's a hard thing to do. It's easy to feel pressure from work/family/friends/school/kids/and on and on so that we suddenly find ourselves so overbooked and burdened we don't know where to start cutting back. I'm glad you're here! Let's get started.
If you answered mostly A (or 15-20 on the SurveyMonkey quiz):
You have pretty strong boundaries and have a healthy understanding of what it means to put yourself as a priority in your own life! You recognize the importance of nurturing yourself so that you have energy to give to others. You firmly believe in the oxygen mask analogy – in an airplane you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others, otherwise you won’t have any oxygen to be alert to help others!
If you answered mostly B (or 6-14 on the SurveyMonkey quiz):
You have times where it’s hard to put yourself as a priority in your life, but overall find ways to manage and get your needs met. You recognize the importance of helping and supporting others in your life, and at times may respond through guilt or pressures to put others’ needs first when you really want to prioritize you.
If you answered mostly C (or 0-5 on the SurveyMonkey quiz):
You may have difficulty putting yourself as a priority in your own life. It may be because of life obligations, family/work/school demands that don’t allow you to say ‘no’, or learned patterns that have led you to believe you have to say ‘yes’ all the time. When it comes down to it, you feel exhausted and, if you’re honest, sometimes resentful that you sacrifice so much for others.
Second... let's learn about why it's important to (sometimes) put ourselves first.
If you want to get better at setting limits, saying 'no', and putting yourself as a priority, it starts with some basics in self-care. I sometimes get asked:
"What exactly do you mean by self-care? I think I should do more, but I have no clue what that really means."
Self-care is all about keeping you functioning at your best. It is making choices about how you use your time and energy to help you thrive in life. This can mean basic tasks like getting enough sleep, eating nourishing meals, and drinking enough water each day. It can also mean looking deeper at the multiple areas in your life (physical, spiritual, relational, professional, etc.) to determine how fulfilled you are and making sure you are getting your needs met.
And it can be tough to find balance in all areas of your life! Even when you know that taking care of yourself will help you succeed in life, sometimes shifting those intentions and putting them into action is tough.
By placing a focus on self-care you are prioritizing YOU! It's an intentional act. You will start to connect with the value in getting your needs met and will find it easier to say 'no' to extraneous activities or tasks that will just drain your battery instead of fulfilling you.
"I'm having a hard time doing something for myself each day. My days are so packed and it's hard to find a minute to sit down, let alone work out or cook home-made meals."
There are times in life where commitments make extended time on self-care unrealistic. I'd also counter that you probably have a lot more time than you realize if you were to honestly look at how you're currently using your time and energy. Many of us spend hours a week watching TV that is an easy activity to cut out in favor or something that is more nourishing to your spirit!
Self-care doesn't have to take much time at all. It can be a quick five-minute walk at the end of lunch break, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths, making healthy food choices to nourish your body, or saying no to taking on a task you realistically can't fit into your day.
Have you noticed that when you're stressed out you're more likely to get irritable, snap at loved ones, have road rage and yell at other drivers, or cry over nothing?
When you don't care for yourself you are more vulnerable to the negative impacts of stress and chaos in life. Your emotions will be closer to the surface and less easy to manage and regulate.
Consistent self-care will help you when those times arise and you feel worn out, stretched thin, at your limit. Put another way, it gives you a longer rope to hold before you reach your limit.
Third... let's start adding self-care into each and every day!
To help you get started on an awesome self-care routine I designed this Self-Care Checklist for you to use!
As you check it out, you’ll see there are suggestions for several different areas in your life. This isn’t meant to be all encompassing, but a starting point. I included a second blank page so you can create a list that works JUST FOR YOU!
"What’s the best way to use this self-care checklist?"
There are lots of ideas on this list. Some will connect with you, some may not. As you start, try doing just one or two things a day.
As you play around you will start to discover what areas need the most nurturing. Is your emotional storage running low and need a boost? What about your physical health? Or relationships need some attention? Making consistent self-care 'deposits' can keep you on track for feeling like the best version of you!
With time these activities will become integrated into your life and will be something you look forward to. You will start to notice your resiliency toward stress, challenges you come up against, and a shift in attitude.
I hope you see the value in self-care and come to enjoy the way you get to nurture your heart, soul and spirit. You are worth it!
If you're still looking for more, you may be in a place where therapy can help. In therapy sessions, you can explore what's working, what's not, and get non-judgmental feedback on how to fine-tune your relationships, boundaries with others, patterns you learned throughout your life, and how to create a life you love living.