Easy Ways to Put Yourself First
If you’re managing depression or anxiety it is really important that you are able to put yourself first. Our culture glorifies being busy as if doing more somehow makes you more valuable as a person. It can be hard to prioritize your mental health, it’s easy to always put it last or just fit it in when you have time. If you’re ready to really start feeling better and make your mental health a priority you might need to practice having strong boundaries, prioritizing yourself and protecting your time. Here are some easy ways to put yourself first.
Don’t Glorify Self Neglect
If your identity is wrapped up in taking care of other people it’s going to be hard for you to put yourself first. Viewing yourself as someone that is selfless and always taking care of other people might make you feel validated in the moment but it’s not a good long-term strategy. You’re not going to be useful to anyone if you burn yourself out. Glorifying self-neglect means that you see not taking care of yourself as a good thing that makes you strong and often times this glorification makes you feel worthy of love. You need to accept that you are inherently valuable and that you will be even more useful to the people in your life if you are able to take time for yourself.
Don’t Do Things Out of Fear
Evaluate why you’re putting too much on your plate or feel like you never have enough time for yourself. Oftentimes we do things out of fear of missing out or fear that if we set boundaries the people in our lives won’t care about us anymore. If you’re doing things out of fear spend some time addressing that. Write a journal entry about how the fear is negatively impacting your life and how your life would be different if you could let it go. You can choose to walk away from thoughts and feelings that aren’t serving your highest good. It might be hard to accept that you don’t have to say yes to everyone and everything all the time to be valuable to the people in your life. These feelings are worth sorting out to be able to start living life on your terms. I spent some time sorting through all of this with my therapist and she was able to help me change my mindset.
Put time for yourself on your agenda and keep it just like you would any other meeting. If you can make it at the same time every week and make it a priority so you’re not tempted to skip it or fill it with work. Make a list of activities you would like to do during your scheduled time, if you need some ideas check out some of my self-care guide for women who are busy and stressed. Think about what activities make you feel refreshed and recharged and use your scheduled time to make sure you get to do some of them every week. This is time for you to do things that make you feel good without any guilt. I always make sure to schedule all of my self-care activities at the beginning of the week when I am writing out my to-do list. That way I am not tempted to skip over it or ignore it.
Once you get in the habit of saying yes to everything and people pleasing it’s really hard to start saying no. Give yourself a maximum amount of time you’ll spend volunteering, doing favors for friends or whatever it is that is eating up all of your time. Protect your free time and don’t feel guilty if you choose to protect it and not let it be crammed with more to-dos. When you do say no to something feel proud you’re able to prioritize and assert yourself instead of letting yourself feel guilty. Having strong boundaries can be hard and you should celebrate when you assert yourself not beat yourself up or feeling bad. This is your life and you deserve to spend it how you like. It took my a really long time to learn that I don’t owe anyone my time and I don’t need to feel guilty if I tell someone that I am not able to do something for them. I always try to help out friends when I am able to but I ask that they understand if I have too much going on or am not able to do favors for them. It has taken me a really long time to learn to have clear and strong boundaries but now that I do life is so much easier. When I am able to do favors for people it is always because I truly want to and not just because I feel obligated or am not able to say no without feeling guilty.
Get Rid of Responsibilities
Start brainstorming ways to get things off your plate. Hire a housekeeper once a month to do the chores you hate doing. When I worked an 8-5 job and was having a really busy week I would have my groceries delivered. It’s not as expensive as you would think and not having to go to the grocery store saved me time and made me feel like a fancy queen. See if there are any tasks that suck your time that you could hire out for cheap. If you’re feeling burnt out or close to it let your friends and family know and see if you can cancel plans. You will feel better once you get your schedule back to a manageable place. Make sure you prioritize your to-do list and see if you can cut out some of the less important tasks. Whenever I start to feel stressed out or overwhelmed I immediately move unimportant tasks off of my to-do list. This helps keep me from feeling overwhelmed and like I am drowning in tasks I need to do. If you can’t get rid of any responsibilities try prioritizing all of your tasks and focus only on the top three tasks. This can help your to-do list seem a lot less daunting.
I hope this post gives you some ideas of ways you can put yourself first. I know it is hard to prioritize yourself when you’re used to putting everyone elses needs above your own. However, I believe that putting yourself first is the best way to serve the people in your life longterm. You’re not useful to anyone if you neglect yourself. Noone deserves to put themselves last, you are too important to this world to neglect your own wants and needs.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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