Sometimes as life gets busier and the responsibilities seem to pile up endlessly, your self-care can often be one of the first things to fall away. In this article we will be explore the idea of how to make yourself a priority and how self-care can make such a huge difference when it comes to mental health.
Have you ever noticed how it’s often all too easy to make others a priority and in doing so it becomes difficult to find a space for yourself? You’re not alone. We’re all guilty of it from time to time, we find ourselves putting our needs aside to focus on things like work, family, and friendships. While all of these areas are immensely important, they can be extremely taxing if you are not taking care of your own needs. When we are prioritizing others while we are running on empty, it can lead to burn-out, depression and it can negatively impact our relationships.
What does it mean to prioritize yourself?
To make yourself a priority means that you are actively aware of caring for your needs and emotions. It’s often easy to notice when someone else around us needs help but regularly goes overlooked in ourselves. For example, if you noticed a loved one was feeling overwhelmed or going through a difficult period, you may look to do something that eases their day slightly. Perhaps something that gives them a bit of free time, allowing them to recharge by doing something they enjoy. Now what if you used that innate compassionate ability to show some care for yourself? It sounds simple but for many it is an extremely difficult task.
Why is it so difficult?
Life can get chaotic, and our various roles can slowly add more and more to our plates. Often without us fully realizing, we can reach a point where we are overwhelmed and feeling drained. The more we are doing for others, the easier it can be to forget about our own needs. It often starts with small things like skipping meals to fit in extra errands, constantly working late into the night and not asking for help from those around us. This kind of self-neglect can begin to snowball out of control, and we often only notice the side effects like irritability, anxiety, and depression.
What can I do about it?
Much like the airline safety saying ‘start by securing your own oxygen mask before attempting to help anyone else with theirs’. This is because we can’t help anyone us around us unless we are taken care of. Start off by ensuring that your basic needs are being met, eating nourishing meals, taking care your health, and getting enough rest. This is the very foundation of your self-care, without that nothing else can happen. Once you have that covered, start to look at areas of your life that ‘fill your cup’ and leave you feeling recharged. It’s a deeply individual thing based on what you enjoy and what you’re passionate about. For some it may be restarting a hobby that has been side-lined for many years, perhaps it’s a regular coffee date with close friends or simply a half-hour in the morning or evening that you get to be focussed on yourself and no one else. It often means that you’ll need to ask for help, set boundaries and become comfortable with saying ‘no’ to things that drain you. While many can struggle with feelings of guilt from doing so, remember by taking care of yourself you can be a better partner, parent, friend, and worker. This can be a process but start small and build from there, you will be amazed at the results.
Making yourself a real priority in your daily life can take time and for some it can feel like a huge challenge. If you find that you’re always putting everyone else’s needs before your own and like you are running on empty it’s time to reassess. If you’re unsure of where to start remember you can speak to your DMC Clinic therapist about ways to prioritize your self-care.
The article is written by Lauren, Trainee Counsellor at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.