Making “You” A Priority Doesn’t Make You Selfish

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It’s not easy being a woman.

For as amazing as we are at multi-tasking, all too often, we leave ourselves — and our needs — behind.

We feel pulled in so many different directions — juggling family, kids, work, activities — that sometimes we feel completely overwhelmed and end up putting ourselves dead last on the to-do list — that is, if we even make it on the list, at all.

As a result, more and more women today are feeling over-worked, exhausted and, oftentimes, resentful of their spouses/significant others who seem to have it easier.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Sure, there are going to be innumerable times when children and husbands or wives and aging parents absolutely must come first … that’s a given.

But even during times where it feels like our lives are perpetually thrown off-balance, neglecting our own well-being often compounds an already challenging situation.

Because ultimately, if feeling happier, healthier, and less stressed makes you a better mom, wife, daughter, employee, leader … isn’t that something we can all strive for?

I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t blame you; “Yea, yea, that sounds nice and all on the screen.”

You’re thinking, real life is messy, fraught with challenges and hurdles — presentations and business travel; PTA meetings and karate lessons; custody battles and bills. And you’re right; it is.

You also might be thinking, OK, but not everyone has a babysitter or spouse or family member who can help give you “me” time at the gym or even a therapeutic lunch date with girlfriends so you can focus on your physical and/or mental well-being.

That’s true, too. For many busy women today, a spare hour in their day to exercise or see friends is a pipe dream.

So knowing this, how can we make ourselves — and our health, our wellness (mental and physical) — a priority, without being viewed as “selfish?” Because isn’t it selfless to take good care of ourselves so we can, in fact, take good care of those we love and care about?

Isn’t it like that whole airplane crash scenario where we’re told to put a mask on ourselves, and then on our under-age seat-mate?

Of course I don’t mean to imply we should put ourselves and our own needs above all else; that would, indeed, be selfish. But all too often, women forget that we should have a place on our own priority lists; we should be “a” priority, at the very least … not an after-thought when the rest of the day’s tasks are done.

So here are some things to ponder; some ways we can make ourselves — and our health — a priority, without spending any money or taking any time away from those we love who depend on us.

When you wake up, do you hit the alarm for 20 minutes, or do you jump out of bed and squeeze a workout in before your husband and/or kids wake up? Starting the day off with exercise — even if it’s just a 15-minute home DVD or a walk with the dog — sets the tone for the day and gets your morning off to a great start. And since no one else is awake at that time, you won’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself.

Do you plan out your meals, or do you grab whatever you can between meetings? Even taking weight concerns out of the equation, planning out meals is economical. It can also lift the burden of indecision when dining out (you’ll have decided previously what works into your wallet budget and food budget) and it can control impulse buys.

Do you smile at strangers, or glance down when you see someone approaching? It might seem miniscule, but a random act of kindness — however small– can make us happier in the long run. A smile is contagious; give a grin, and it goes a long way. Maybe the person you smile at will hold the door open for someone else, who will pick up someone else’s newspaper for them and give it to someone else who will walk dogs at a local animal shelter …

It’s not always easy to make ourselves a priority, and it might even feel selfish at first … but hopefully, in time, what you will discover is that making yourself a priority will pay dividends in the long run, leading to stronger relationships, friendships, and even a better work ethic.

There’s no harm in trying, right? Give it a whirl; let’s talk on the flip-side. And if you have some tips to share, the comments are open.

How about you? How can you make yourself — and your health — a priority? What tips can you share for ditching the guilt associated with “me time”?


2 thoughts on “Making “You” A Priority Doesn’t Make You Selfish

  1. Melissa, getting up early before everyone else in order to exercise is main thing I do for myself. Before I started doing this, I didn’t get enough exercise to make me happy because taking away from family time in order to exercise made
    me feel guilty. Something’s gotta give. In order to get enough sleep I go to bed quite early, even when the chores aren’t done.

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