Health Advocate Blog

The importance of putting yourself first

Think back to the last time you were preparing for takeoff on an airplane. Do you remember the part of the safety brief when the flight attendant instructs that, in the case of an emergency, you should put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others? This approach should be applied in your everyday life sometimes as well. For many of us, it is second nature to put our own needs and wants on the backburner – we prioritize family, friends, work and other parts of our lives before taking any time for ourselves.

It may not always be possible to put your own needs first, but doing so every so often is critical to your health and well-being, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your own self-care practice:

Put it on the calendar. If you have a million other responsibilities vying for your attention, it can be easy to bump self-care from the schedule. Whether you sprinkle a few moments for yourself throughout the week or dedicate a full “self-care” day to an activity or activities you love, scheduling appointments on your calendar will help make sure it remains a priority that doesn’t easily fall off the radar.

Spend time with yourself. While time with friends and family is healthy and can help boost your mood, it’s also important to spend some quality time with yourself! This enables you to focus on the things you love and avoid compromising to keep everyone happy.

Lose yourself in something you love. What are your favorite hobbies? Whether you love reading, cooking, gardening, bird watching or any other activity, spending time immersed in something you enjoy can do wonders for your mood and stress level. If you’re not sure what speaks to you yet, try a few new hobbies. Local community centers and colleges often offer evening and weekend classes in a variety of activities, which can help you get started at discovering what means the most to you.

Take care of yourself. This may be obvious, but eating well and exercising can have a huge impact on your self-care. Start your day with a quiet walk in the neighborhood, try a new yoga class, stay hydrated, and eat a bounty of seasonal produce. This can even mean taking a nap if needed! These steps can go a long way toward helping your overall well-being.

Try meditation. In addition to physical well-being, it’s important to take care of your mental and emotional health as well. Meditation can be a huge help toward finding moments of peace in your day and reducing stress. Journaling can also help achieve these effects.

Ask for help. It is way too easy to say yes to every request and pile more and more tasks on our to-do lists. However, this often leads to stress, feelings of resentment and burnout. When possible, say no or ask for help from family or friends. Perhaps your kitchen won’t be quite as clean if your preteen is in charge, but it’s one less thing on your plate! Swapping carpool duty with a neighbor or getting groceries delivered, among other delegating or outsourcing, can help free up time to focus on you and what you need to feel more balanced.

Start small by finding little ways to incorporate more “you time” into your daily routine, such as sitting outside with a mug of tea before bed or taking a walk at lunch instead of eating at your desk. These seemingly little changes can add up to a big impact for your overall health and well-being. Take care of yourself!