Mental Well-Being

4 Reasons Why It’s OK to Put Yourself First

February 22, 2024

Have you ever felt guilty about doing something for yourself? You’re not alone. Society likes to tell us that putting focus on yourself is wrong, almost selfish. So, you struggle with your daily life, bending under the burdens of responsibility and endless to-do lists. On those rare occasions when you try to slip away for some uninterrupted respite, the guilt prevents you from enjoying yourself. Let’s bust this mindset once and for all. It’s OK to put yourself first. Read on to find out why self-care isn’t selfish, and why it’s important to carve out time to refuel and regroup.

You’re no good to other people if you’re struggling

Remember the last time you flew on an airplane? If you were listening to the flight attendant, you probably heard the phrase “put on your oxygen mask first before you help someone else put on theirs.” There’s a reason for this. If you don’t first attend to your own needs, you’re not going to be able to assist those who rely on you for help and guidance.

Taking care of others should not require you to sacrifice your own well-being.  When you take on too much, you’re also risking your own mental and physical wellness. For instance, if you’re struggling with chronic stress and anxiety, you may notice physical symptoms that can affect your ability to complete daily tasks – problems like increased blood pressure or a pounding heart. Over time, stress can increase your risks of diabetes and hypertension, which can make it harder to handle your many responsibilities. If you want to give others the best of you, start by getting what’s best for you.

You’ll show people how you deserve to be treated

Are you a people pleaser? Do you always let others go ahead of you? Are you hesitant to speak up when you feel you’re being treated unfairly? Being generous is not a bad thing, but letting other people walk over you simply sets you up for more mistreatment. When you put yourself first, you’re telling others that you deserve to be the priority. Sometimes it’s not enough to say it – sometimes you have to demonstrate your importance so the people around you will get it.

You let your loved ones grow and take on their own responsibilities

Remember your mother’s handbag? It was such a convenient space to stash the things you didn’t feel like carrying, like your sunglasses and the wallet that didn’t quite fit in your pocket. As the outing went on, Mom’s purse grew fuller and heavier, while you and your siblings could enjoy the day without being weighed down. In the meantime, Mom was carrying everyone else’s burdens. Imagine if Mom had refused to carry the extras? You would have been forced to figure out a way to carry them yourself. That’s not a bad thing. Apply this to your daily responsibilities. Let your children keep looking for those missing soccer cleats or lost homework assignments. Allow your coworkers to handle their own contributions to the group effort, instead of taking on everything yourself.

You enjoy the benefits of putting yourself first    

Those small self-care time-outs can add up to better physical and mental health. Something as simple as getting a little extra sleep can help you recharge and feel strong enough to tackle the hardest tasks. Following a healthy diet can involve more planning and preparation than picking up a burger on the way home, but you’re rewarded with better overall health and energy. That regular exercise class helps you build the stamina and strength it takes to complete your other responsibilities.

It’s not too late to make a resolution to put yourself first this year. If you’re still struggling with the challenges of everyday life, the Hancock Health Connection Center may be able to help you. Our professional support navigators can help you connect with community resources that address your individual needs. Call us at 317-468-4231 or stop by our office at 120 W. McKenzie Road, Suite G, Greenfield, during regular business hours.

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