LEARNING TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, FIRST
This is something I have always battled and struggled with, really it goes against my nature - to be "selfish" and put myself first. But I do love self-care. And I love that the word selfish is no longer being used as a negative in my mind, I think the term self-care has really helped me become a lot better at looking after myself, making myself number one and looking at the term self-care through a counselling lens is really different to just thinking your being selfish. Being selfish, in a way that doesn't take away from others, but is crucial to me and my happiness.
BUT I WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS. MOST OF THE TIME I USED TO PEOPLE PLEASE MY WAY THROUGH LIFE.
'No' wasn't a word I used often. I would sacrifice rest, my free time, my mental health, things that made me happy to please, help and serve others - especially the ones I love. Now? I come first. I've never felt more at peace with how I act, never looking for validation, not letting guilt overcome me and always acting from a place of self-love. Granted it took me hitting rock bottom physically and being diagnosed with an immune deficiency for me to change my ways. But now I am happier and more fulfilled than EVER.
"But how?" I hear you asking. It all starts with awareness, action and sometimes a little help. If you're aware that you're like I was, always putting everyone else ahead of you, no matter what physical or mental state you're in then it's time for you to take action. I've known for a long time that to some degree I put people ahead of myself, whether it be partners, friends, family etc... if they needed me, I was there and I was helping; even when I wasn't at my strongest and was pouring from an empty cup so to speak.
It wasn't until I started seeing my psychologist to help me deal with chronic illness being apart of my life that it really hit home how much I was running myself into the ground and letting both my physical and mental health suffer by letting others lean on me, use me as an emotional crutch and take the way they were feeling out on me. Taking on other peoples stress, burdens and worry and letting there worry, stress and burden myself. Sure since I've changed my ways some people haven't been overly thrilled, which isn't surprising given they are used to me being the opposite - but now I don't have a choice but to put myself first otherwise my health suffers and in a way it's been a blessing and taught me a really valuable self-love lesson.
Here are some super simple ways to look after yourself a put yourself first which my psychologist passed onto me, so I hope they help you too.
SCHEDULE YOUR TIME
Sounds like a mixed message but when I'm organised, I have more time for what's important to me and I tend to make time for myself by scheduling it in now; I like to call it TAELA TIME. I colour code my diary so that I can look over it and see if there is too much blue (work) and not enough green (self-care). I can make sure that there is lots of purple (time with friends and family) and a good amount of red (exercise and movement). This gives me the freedom to know that I'm not neglecting any important areas of my life.
YOUR HAPPINESS IS NUMBER ONE
This part is always the one we resist. Because so many of us put our happiness down to what we have and what life looks like or what other people think. Focusing on what feels right to you. Do you feel good going to the gym in the morning or evening? If not, would a beach workout with a friend fulfill you in a more effective way? Do you feel happy when you're spending time with certain people? If yes, see them more! Listen to your body if your body is telling you you're not up to seeing a certain person or people, don't push yourself to make it work - it's okay not to be mentally up for something. Don't wait for something to happen or stop happening for your happiness to begin!
YOU ARE AMAZING
Yes, you! You're an incredible miracle that is here for a very good reason. There is no reason that anyone in the world is any more deserving of happiness or love than you are. You are the reflection of how you treat yourself, not how other may treat you. Remember that your health and life aren't goals, they are constants. Enjoy this one precious life you have been given and nurture yourself.
GET THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SLEEP
People can't stress this enough, yet it's one I struggle the most with at the moment. Sleep is so important. Wind down your night by putting your phone and computer away. Don't fall asleep checking Instagram. (I'm so guilty of this) Sleep is essential to your health. Get enough. Start tonight.