Putting Yourself First is Not Selfish

Do you ever forget to put your own needs first, to take care of yourself before helping others?

From a young age we are taught that it is selfish to put ourselves first. Surely someone who only thinks about themselves without any consideration for others would be regarded as selfish. However, this is not the same as looking after your own needs. Looking after your own needs is selfless not selfish. When you look after your own needs you feel good and when you feel good you have ample resources left to care for others.

I often hear people say that they are so busy that finding the time for themselves is hard or feels indulgent. The fact is, if we constantly prioritise everything above ourselves, viewing our own wellbeing as the least important thing in our life, stress tends to creep up on us and before long we may find ourselves full of tension and fatigue, operating in a mental fog where it’s hard to care about anything or anyone.

Looking after yourself as a priority is not indulgent, it’s a necessity. You cannot continue to give and give if you are not in a good place yourself. Think of the safety instructions we hear when travelling by plane … “Put your oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance”. If you run out of oxygen you can’t help anyone. It’s no different when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing. Taking care of yourself first as your priority means that you are in the best place to look after others.

Allow yourself a moment to reflect on what taking care of yourself means for you. What would be the first sign that you are taking care of yourself better? Perhaps it would be allowing yourself time to eat breakfast, having a proper lunch break or leaving work on time. It may mean scheduling in time alone for relaxation and exercise or arranging some fun activities with friends. When we engage in positive activity, positive interaction and positive thinking (this we do when we’re enjoying ourselves) it is good for our brain chemistry. It creates serotonin and serotonin makes you feel good, it motivates you and helps you cope with whatever life throws at you.

So you can understand that if you have tough things to deal with or feel too busy to find time for yourself that you need to stop, look after yourself and create serotonin first. Plan to take some time out for yourself and do something you enjoy. Your mind and body will thank you as you will feel more relaxed, more focused, refreshed and energised with a better sense of calm and control.