Putting Yourself First

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So many of us have been led to believe that in order to be successful, to be seen by others as a good person, we must put the needs of others before our own. A parent puts the needs of their children first, a teacher puts the needs of their students first, a leader puts the needs of their team first. We need to be more selfless…. really? Now, before you unfollow me, unfriend me or report me to the morality police, hear me out. I am not a terrible person, I am simply questioning whether selflessness is the way to go. Shouldn’t we be looking at what is best for ourselves first so that we have something left to give the others in our lives.

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This is not to say that we are self-absorbed, selfish or self-indulgent but that we are acknowledging the need for self-care. So what can we do to ensure that we taking care of ourselves, recharging our batteries, so to speak? Many people hold out until holidays to relax and recharge. This is why many of us have experienced illness the very day that our holidays are about to begin! Our daily lives are so filled with duties and expectations that we seem to have no time to succumb to illness. But as soon as the clock indicates that vacation is about to begin, its like a switch is thrown and our body shouts “Welcome Vacation!” Unfortunately our immune system does the same thing and the first few days of vacation are spent in complete misery. In order to avoid this we need to make sure that we are recharging regularly.

  1. Sleep is essential. Research continues to tell us that 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep are required for the body and mind to function at optimum levels. For myself, I can do quite well on 5-6 hours and we all know people who are dependent on 9 or more. But whatever your personal requirement may be, try to get that, consistently. Put the electronics away, darken the room and try to get a good quality sleep. Ten minutes of meditation before turning in for the night can help to clear your mind and facilitate a sound sleep. I learned this last one from my 14 year old daughter, one of the most balanced people I know.
  2. Enjoy nature. No matter where you live, make time to get outside. This may be a walk around the block, a hike in a mountain, a run along the beach, a bike ride in a park, but whatever it is, try to do it, regularly.
  3. Quiet time. Take a little time each day, just for yourself. Alone. No interruptions. Whether it be in the morning, afternoon or evening, whatever works best for you. For me, it is worth it to get up a half an hour before everyone else in my family to enjoy my coffee in the peace of the morning. Sitting on the deck, listening to the birds chirp, the wind in the trees and the smell of the clean fresh air. This helps me to relax and prepare for the noise of the day. Even when I am on vacation I get up early to explore the coffee shops in the area, try to get a seat by a window and watch the world go by.
  4. Exercise. Move your body, your mind will thank you.
  5. Read. Reading can educate, elevate and empower you. Whether you read for business or pleasure, find a good book or an article about something that interests you or that you wish to learn about, go to a quiet place and enjoy.
  6. Listen to Music. Music can help you to relax and it can also help to energize you. Whatever the type of music, turn it on, turn it up and sing along. So many people I have met will say, “I used to play the ___ years ago”, I am one of those people, I used to play guitar and piano. Well, why not start playing again? If you’ve never played a musical instrument, challenge yourself, take lessons or watch a video online to learn how. Its never too late!
  7. Stay Connected. So many of us find that our day to day living can get in the way of those relationships which we once held so dear. Find time for the important people in your life, schedule them in and do not cancel. These people help to fuel your energy, make you laugh and are there to listen when you need it. Forget the toxic people who demand of your time, take your energy and offer no positive return.

I’m sure we all know people who are great at all of these things, maybe you are one of those people, and if so I applaud you. But I admit, I am a work in progress and am still trying to work all of these things into my routine. If you are like me, pick two or three things from the list and once they become part of your routine, add another and so on. Most of all, do not feel guilty for putting yourself first!

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

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