How long have you been ignoring yourself?
You've heard the adage about putting your own oxygen mask on first, right? If you're like me, you've been helping others for a long, long time. I say it's time to put YOUR mask on and breathe. Just for yourself. Just for a minute.
Once you catch your breath you might remember that you used to be fierce! You never shied away from protecting your boundaries. You dropped toxic people like hot potatoes. You excelled at making time for yourself. You were assertive. You knew what you deserved.
Where did ya go? I think I know. You got busy protecting OTHER people with that power. Raising your kids. Pouring yourself into work. Holding up your friends when they fell down.
You've done good. And now it needs to be YOUR turn again.
Here are 10 ways to get started putting YOURSELF first.
1. Get a friend to tell you to do it.
Yes, putting yourself first is FOR YOU. But, if you're out of practice, it might be too big of a step.
Here's a fun hack: ask one of your best friends to tell you that putting yourself first is what THEY want you to do. Ask them to remind you and to demand updates on how well you're prioritizing yourself.
Yes, it's a little silly. But, your friend knows that you need this, and strangely, it can work. You can return the favor to THEM if they need it, too.
Any pen. Any notebook. Even one single minute a day. No excuses! A journaling habit signals your willingness to focus on making time for yourself.
Journaling is the simplest way to work through tricky emotions in your life. Guilt, overwhelm, restlessness - work that shit out on paper. If you're having trouble choosing yourself, choosing to journal is crucial.
How about a beautiful new home for your thoughts? See all Idylissa journals & notebooks here.
3. Say No.
Are you a chronic over-scheduler? An over-committer? The Queen of making obligation-based agreements? It's high time to curb that habit.
Once you clear away expectations and guilt-trips, what are some things you WANT to say no to? Brainstorm for 10 minutes. Then pick one thing and SAY NO to it.
To start making time for yourself you have to start finding and honoring your NO. May this first one be the start of a glorious trend!
4. Ask for help.
You're always helping OTHER people. But how often do YOU ask for help from those same people? I'll bet they would LOVE the opportunity to return the favor.
Brainstorming time again! Think of 10 things you could use help with - big or little. Then pick one, and ask!
If they say no or not right now, awesome! They've got boundaries! Pick someone else and ask again.
When someone says yes, LET THEM HELP without reservation. You might even try to enjoy it! ;)
5. Date yourself.
What sounds like a good time out to you? Dinner and a movie? An afternoon picnic in the park? A whole day shopping? Flipping channels in a hotel room surrounded by snack foods?
Whatever makes for the perfect getaway, choose it, schedule it, and then do it with ONLY yourself. Treat yourself to a perfectly chosen date to celebrate YOU.
It might feel a little silly, and you might only do it once. But even if you feel a little awkward your inner self will get the message that you're choosing yourself.
6. Start a self care habit.
You know those cliché self-care activities? Bubble baths. Yoga. Herbal tea and a good book. Listening to music. Going for a walk. Like the oxygen mask advice, they're repeated because they WORK.
Pick some calming/recharging activities that sound good to you and that are easy to do any time. Start prioritizing yourself and making it a habit. Each day take five to fifteen minutes to make yourself feel good. It can be the same activity every day, or you can rotate through a few.
This is a habit that'll make a difference in your life after only a few days. You'll see that these things are clichés for a reason.
Be honest. How often do you experience spontaneous laughter? When we get caught up in prioritizing other people, we often lose our sense of humor. We get too serious, and we get stuck there.
Start being on the lookout for ANYTHING that makes you laugh. Stand up routines on Netflix? Funny cat videos? Dirty limericks? Hearing a friend's customer service tales?
When you notice something that makes you laugh, start choosing to do that activity more often. Choosing yourself means choosing the things that bring you joy. Your laughter is a great guide.
8. Practice gratitude.
You've heard this advice before, and if you're feeling cynical it can sound like one more thing on your to-do list. So, look - I'm not going to say you have to write down three gratitudes every day. But it CAN change your outlook when you remember to be grateful.
I like to make up challenges to make it more fun and silly. I'll ask myself, "What's the smallest, most insignificant thing I can think of to be grateful for today?" Or I'll try to imagine, "What was I grateful for on March 3rd 1994?"
Prioritizing yourself comes easier when you can notice the good in your life. What are your ideas for keeping gratitude in your thoughts?
9. Honor past you and future you.
While you're practicing prioritizing yourself, remember Past You and Future You.
Don't beat yourself up about choices you made in the past. Past You was doing her best, and you can honor her for the work she's done.
Don't get too anxious about Future You, but spare a thought for her now and then. Do something nice to make Future You's life a little easier.
Choosing yourself in the present is easier when you have your past and future selves on your side.
10. Carve out uninterruptable time.
Technology has made 24/7 access to each other possible. Convenient, sure. But it's one of the major contributors to burnout. Your kids, your lovers, your friends, your family, and your work all vying for your attention, all at once. No wonder you're FRAZZLED.
One way or another, find a way to make SOME time where no one can get your attention.
Turn off your ringer. Turn off your notifications. Be somewhere you can't see or hear anyone who might need you and they can't see or hear you, either. If you can swing it, go somewhere no one even knows where you are.
Enjoy making time for yourself to BE yourself, free from distraction.
If this post resonates with you, will you send the link to a friend? I'll bet you know OTHER women who are struggling with their own oxygen masks. Remember #1 on this list? Maybe you can partner up and help each other remember how to put your own selves first. It's easier to stay committed when you have backup!
It's hard to start putting yourself first, but you can succeed at this, too, I promise. It may be one of the most important things you've done in your life.
Habits don't change overnight, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to change all at once. It's not an instant switch flip. It'll be a more gradual shift over time.
Whenever you feel yourself drifting away again, gently turn back towards the practices you've learned. It'll get easier over time.