Stop Putting Yourself Last!

Life is hectic. Everything and everyone seems to want more and more of our time and attention. Those to-do lists get longer and longer. Everything is zapping our energy and its no wonder we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of our priority list.

Did you know that pushing on like this for any length of time can lead to burnout? We need to take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I'm sure we've all heard the expression that you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Self care is not some grande scheme that has to be outlandish or expensive. Health writer Moira Lawler simply explains self care as: "taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day."

Self care is just as important as eating healthy and exercising regularly. Self care can include physical activities like exercising, yoga, and dancing or relaxing outlets such as reading or even Netflix & chill! Whatever makes you feel rejuvenated and capable of taking on your day but it should be practiced regularly.

Other than preventing burnout, here are some reasons why self care is so important.

  1. Self care helps you perform at your best

  2. It supports overall well-being

  3. Self care can help maintain self confidence and self esteem

  4. It makes us more aware of our personal needs

  5. Self care allows us to be resilient

  6. It can help you feel rested and energized

Self care doesn't have to take up a lot of time and every individual's needs and solutions are unique to them. So long as the activity is enjoyable, relaxing or stimulating you are doing it correctly. Self care activities can also change from day to day.

Here are some ideas for self care activities:

  1. Go on a walk or hike to get fresh air and connect with nature

  2. Relax in a hammock or on a blanket in the grass, feel the warmth of the sun, and watch the clouds

  3. Practice yoga or meditation

  4. Release stress, frustration, and/or emotions with a workout

  5. Take a bath

  6. Try a new creative outlet such as painting, sketching, scrapbooking etc.

  7. Read a book

  8. Listen to music or a podcast

  9. Cook a new recipe or do some baking

  10. Write in a journal

  11. Practice gratitude

Self care can also be a social activity. Some days you might need some alone time to yourself but others you might feel the need to connect socially. Spending quality time with family, friends, or pets can be very effective in a self care plan.

Determining how often to practice self care is very personal and will be different for each individual depending on their stress levels, responsibilities, and the time they have available. Regular self care is ideal and if you can get some in daily that is fantastic, even if just for a few minutes. I recommend doing something for yourself for at least 15 minutes daily. But then again, depending on your schedule, some days your self care routine may only be a few minutes whereas other days it may be a few hours. The more self care you can do for yourself the more you will fill your cup. As your cup continues to fill you can then pour freely into others. If you practice self care regularly enough you can even get to the stage where your cup is constantly overflowing and naturally overflows into those that you love and care for.

If you have not been practicing regular self care or it has been awhile since you practiced regularly, you may feel guilty about taking time for yourself when you have other responsibilities and/or people to care for. Back to our lovely cup analogy, not practicing self care regularly is effectively emptying your cup and you will eventually have nothing left to give. Without taking care of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being we leave ourselves open to anger, depression, exhaustion, frustration, illness, and other risks which all lower our ability to cope.

Honour yourself and you'll be in a much better state to handle whatever challenges life may throw at you. Self care increases our ability to love ourselves, love others, and helps with patience, understanding, and compassion.

What are your favourite self care practices? If you have not regularly practiced self care in the past, will you be making an effort going forward to give yourself that time and attention?

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