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Do you feel there is not enough hours in a day to take care of yourself as well as everyone else? Does making yourself a priority feel selfish? Where you brought up to always put others first?
It doesn’t have to be this way. By making yourself a priority in your own life you will be healthier, have healthier relationships, be better at your job, and even be a better caregiver. Follow these simple steps and start making yourself a priority today!
Why are We Not Prioritising Ourselves?
Most women (and some men) have grown up learning to put others first, to make others a priority. This is reinforced with sayings such as ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive’ or ‘Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have’.
The role for women to be the caregivers is also deeply rooted in our society. In the US, 66% of caregivers are female, and one third takes care of two or more people. Women are more likely to take parental leave, due to national and company parental leave schemes, and when pushed, women are more likely to step up as the main caregiver: In the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic 28% of women with kids under 18 have left the workforce, compared to 10% of men.
There is a societal expectation for women to put others first, however, that doesn’t mean that doing so will provide the best outcome, for yourself, for your family, or for your loved ones.
What are the Benefits of Making Yourself a Priority?
If you have ever been in an airplane, you will have heard the instruction to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping others, even your own child. The reason is simple, if you pass out you can’t help anyone else but will instead need help yourself.
The same is true in our daily lives.
When you are happy and healthy and full of energy you will be able to give much more to those around you. When you make yourself a priority and treat yourself with respect, you will teach others to do the same, starting a positive spiral of mutual kindness and support.
What do you want people (your daughter, partner, date, friend, co-worker….) to think about you?
‘She is such a doormat, she always run herself ragged trying to please everyone else’
‘She is so happy, loving, and full of energy. She treats herself with respect and is kind and supportive to those around her’
Do you need some more motivation to make yourself a priority?
Download these printable ‘Be a Priority’ quotes:
How to Make Yourself a Priority – Not an Option
Making yourself a priority is a shift in mindset. It’s allowing yourself to consider your needs. It’s to build a fundamental knowledge that to be the best person you can be, you need to know how to make yourself a priority, not an option that can wait until later. As you are probably well aware, that later rarely comes around.
Questions to know if you are making yourself a priority:
- Are you taking care of yourself?
- Do you ask for help when you need it?
- Do you respect yourself?
If not, consider why. Is it because of any of the limiting societal believes we discussed earlier, telling you that making yourself a priority is wrong? Do you feel that it’s just impossible with all the expectations others (or is it yourself?) have on you?
It’s time to make a change. It’s time to make yourself the persona that’s happy, loving, and full of energy. The person who treats herself with respect and is kind and supportive to those around her.
So, let’s get started!
Make Your Health a Priority
To have the energy to take care of others, to be good at your job, to have healthy relationships, you need your health.
Consider the following:
- Are you sleeping enough? If not start there, make a healthy sleep routine your highest priority.
- Are you eating relatively healthily? If not, consider what changes you can make to your diet to include a bit more fruit and veggies and reduce the amount of processed food you eat.
- Do you move every day? If not, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of movement or exercise every day. Remember to start small! Can you find 10 minutes in the morning for a walk, some stretches or a dance party in the kitchen?
- Are you stressed? Do something for your mental health every day. Do you want a quick win? Think of things you are grateful for first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed! This will train your mind to wake up in a good mood.
- Do you take care of your social health? When was the last time you met up with a few good friends or sat down for a long phone call with a loved one living far away? Social health is important, and you are not doing yourself, or your loved ones, any favours by neglecting it.
How to Make Myself a Priority in Relationships
Respect is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. This includes all relationships, such as the relationship with….
- …. your partner,
- …. your kids,
- …. your boss,
- …. your friends, and
- …. your co-workers.
Respect is not to always want the same thing, to never fight, or to always please the other person. Respect means that you both respect each other as people. It means that you understand that you may have different experiences and opinions, different wants and needs, and that’s ok.
Do you feel respected in your relationships? If not, it’s time to make yourself a priority.
This may feel uncomfortable, both for you and for the people around you. Remember however, that everyone worth having in your life will want what’s good for you, however, many people are averse to change, so an initial bad reaction should not deter you from making changes. They will come around and see the positives soon enough!
How to Make Yourself a Priority in Relationships:
- Communicate. Explain what is not working and what changes you are planning to make. Remember to focus on yourself here. It’s very difficult to change someone else so focus on what changes you are planning to make, and why.
- Take time for yourself. Make sure your needs are met. You have the right to take time for your health, to see your friends and family, to just relax and get a good night sleep.
- Ask for help. Involve others in your journey. You don’t need to do it all yourself.
- Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat others. If you show that it’s ok to treat you like rubbish or to say bad things about you, others will too. The habit of putting yourself down ends now.
- Stop thriving for perfection. You will not be employee, mum, or wife of the year. Don’t even try. Good enough is good enough. Use your Time, Energy, Attention and Money on what you truly value and not to achieve something that, honestly, no one else cares about anyway.
Be a Priority – Not an Option
Do you feel you just got an even longer to do list that you will fail at achieving? The key to making yourself a priority, and stop being an option that can be pushed further and further own the priority list, is to cut everything out of your life that is not a priority.
I will say that again:
Stop doing anything that is not a priority.
The true key to making yourself a priority is to not spend time and energy on the things that are not your true priorities.
Stop Doing Anything that is Not YOUR Priority
Think through your day. Are there things you do because other people expect it, or you think you should, but you really don’t care either way if you’re being honest?
Are there things you are doing that are not really serving you?
Could others do some of the things you are doing? Others in your family, at your job, or could you pay someone to do it?
For me the list looks like this:
- I truly don’t care about what’s on tv, who’s famous, or what famous people do. So, I don’t try to keep up.
- I would much rather relax with a good book than scrolling through social media, so I deleted all social media apps from my phone (radical, I know!)
- We have the money to pay for a cleaning service. So, we do.
Your list may look completely different, and that’s fine. More than fine! What you spend your time, energy, attention, and money on should reflect your priorities.
Do an experiment. Decide to cut something out for one week. Not for life, just for one week to see how you get on. You might miss it and want to bring it back, and that’s fine – you can now be sure it’s one of your priorities. But if you don’t miss it, you have just carved out a piece of time to bring the focus on you. To your needs and wants. To take steps to make yourself a priority.
Make Yourself a Priority Today.
As with everything in life, reading about it is all good and well but unless you take action, nothing will truly change.
What one thing can you do to prioritise yourself today?
What one thing can you chose not to do?
How does it feel to know that you are way on your way to making yourself a priority?
Have you ever thought about what would make you happier? Wondered if you could become happier? Gretchen Rubin decided to find out, and to document her experiments in The Happiness Project for all of us to follow on her journey.
For more tips, check out the Resources for Personal Development page.