Health & Wellness Articles

Put Yourself First

Reach Other Goals by Starting With Your Self

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You’re a parent, school volunteer, Little League coach, and trusted assistant to your boss. You’ve been up since 6 a.m., made breakfast, packed lunches, cleaned the house, chauffeured the neighborhood kids, helped with homework, read bedtime stories, and finished extra work from the office.It’s 11:30.You’re exhausted.And, in about six-and-a-half hours you’ll begin the whole 24-hour cycle…again.

If you find yourself saying ‘Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!’ you’re not alone. Most of us—especially women, but men too (hey, there are reasons that men die younger than women)—have at some time found ourselves at the bottom of the heap when it comes to taking care of our needs.

The problem with that is that if we don’t take care of ourselves, sooner or later we won’t be of much use to anyone else—or to ourselves. Just as the airline attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask in an emergency before helping a child with theirs, you must take care of your own basic needs before you can attend to the needs of others. What’s more, being busy is not necessarily the same as being productive with meaningful activity. (Do the workaholics you know really accomplish that much more in proportion to the time they invest?)

If “putting yourself first” (a common admonition) sounds too selfish or too hard, try something simpler: put yourself on an equal footing with those you love and tend to. Do you insist that they get enough sleep? Start making that a priority for yourself too. Do you give them time for fun and socializing with friends? Then you do the same! Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: human beings must meet their basic needs before they can move on to higher-level goals. Since most of us already know that we should take care of ourselves—but often have trouble figuring out how to do it, here are some guidelines for getting there:
  • Preserve your physical health with adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Value your emotional health as much as the physical, with a support system of friends and a willingness to laugh—especially at yourself.
  • Schedule fun activities on a regular basis—it’s just as important to plan pleasure as it is to plan work.
  • Identify “busy behaviors” (or people) that drain your time and energy but aren’t really important, then dump ‘em, or at least minimize their hold on you.
  • Kill two birds with one stone, combining family time with exercise, for example, which benefits everyone involved.
  • Try to look at the problems in your life with new eyes to find solutions. If you’re a new mom, for instance, see if you can trade childcare with another new mom to get some time for yourself.
  • Learn to say “No!” Your “yes” is valuable and should not be automatic. Instead, reserve it for the things that are most important to you.
  • Don’t try to change every problem area in your life all at once. Start with one or two items, then expand as you get things under control.
Your life should be like a checking account, balancing out on a regular basis so that you always have assets to draw upon. By making even small deposits—taking care of yourself with a 10-minute walk or a nutritious meal—you’ll be amazed at the interest you’ll reap.
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About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Member Comments

  • DLYNN9
    Thank you so much for the Birthday card. It made me look at my life in a new way. thank you again for being so thoughtful - 6/23/2014 10:36:16 PM
  • VWRIGHT02
    Thank you very much for the Birthday Day card it was very nice of you'll to do!! Very thoughtful I know everyone likes to be remembered....
    God Bless You, - 5/19/2014 9:00:42 PM
  • Thank you for sending a birthday card, spark people always comes through. It seems that they know what I am thinking. thank you again for the support and and every thing your provide in your web site. - 5/7/2014 1:01:30 AM
  • BONDIBEAUTY
    Hi and thank you for remembering my birthday. Its always nice to get birthday wishes.
    - 2/11/2014 1:30:21 AM
  • GIMEYOURLOVE
    Jan. 11, 1947 BD
    So nice to get a BD wish...thanks. I wish all people a happy BD and many, many more.
    Good luck with the weight lose...it is not easy, but never give up eating height. Do read labels. I just put two and two together that MSG has been keeping me awake at night, went to the panty and threw out a bunch of stuff, now I am sleeping like a baby. It is in lemon pepper too and I love lemon pepper...heck! It is also in my beloved Cheetos too! I am devastated to give them up, but I need my sleep.
    Monosodium Glutamate.
    I am so stupid, I didn't realize that four grams equal one teaspoon of refine sugar...Woooo! - 1/12/2014 1:30:27 PM
  • RICBLAINE
    THANK YOU, I am a 80 yr old korean war vet. i have a lot of time to myself. Ithink i will go to the veteran hospital to help the veterans that could use my help in their recovery. HAPPY HOLIDAYS ___ KEEP SMILING AT TROUBLE ERNIE - 12/16/2013 2:41:15 PM
  • Thank you sooooooooooo much for always remembering me on my birthday! - 10/18/2013 8:40:36 AM
  • This was my birthday message today. I had planned to do something special for me and completely talked myself out of it last night. This morning, this was my message "Put Yourself First". Well, I will not put off my plans in favor of others. Thank you, this has boosted my self-worth. - 9/3/2013 7:42:30 AM
  • LATISHAGI
    Thank you for the birthday wish and the excellent advice and suggestions. - 8/25/2013 5:50:33 AM
  • Love the article. - 6/20/2013 3:11:54 PM
  • Amen to this!! - 2/24/2013 1:21:04 AM
  • LOVETORIDE3
    This is an important topic for many of us who are responsible for others. It is easy to lose ourselves in our devotion to our family, work and social groups. I wonder if it isn't somehow easier for me to focus on them, than to address my own issues of nutrition and exercise. - 2/20/2013 1:43:32 PM
  • Thank you for my Birthday Wishes and this great article! - 1/18/2013 5:37:29 AM
  • Lovely article - thanks for sharing.
    I especially like your analogy at the end re life and a checking account - that has created some mental pictures and more with me. I'll need to get my head around that and come back stronger - thanks again. - 10/18/2012 4:57:58 PM
  • I really needed to read this. I do sooooo much others and wonder why I am having a hard time losing weight. I should have lost 50 pounds 4 years ago but I haven't. I've been putting everyone else before myself and I'm making an effort to change that. - 10/18/2012 9:01:31 AM

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