There is a certain stigma associated with taking care of yourself. We are taught from the earliest age to take care of others, and that putting ourselves first is selfish. By the time we are adults, we are so brainwashed into putting others first we tend to assume only others matter. This is a very unhealthy way to look at things, and it can cause more harm than good. Yes, even to the others we have been taught to cherish over even ourselves.
Flight attendants teach us that in an emergency, we should put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we help children with their masks. The reason being is that if you don’t take care of yourself first, you could pass out before being able to help others. This is a good analogy for life also. While taking care of others is important, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to help others.
Taking care of yourself might feel over indulgent, but by doing so you will be in a better frame of mind to help others. Here are a few tips you can use to improve your mental well being.
Some people might scoff at the idea of meditation, but meditating has been scientifically proven to provide a range of benefits. Meditation can not only help you feel better and ease mental health issues, it can also change the brain itself. It’s also a simple, everyday thing you can do at home to destress.
Meditation can be as simple as spending a few minutes concentrating on your breathing, letting thoughts run through your mind, accepting them, and letting them go. You don’t have to make your inner voice completely silent, or wrestle with focusing on objects if it is too difficult for you. There are even meditation apps that help guide you through the process if you have never meditated before.
Meditation is a great option you can do to put yourself in a positive frame of mind every day.
Get rid of negative self talk
That voice in your head is the person you spend the most time listening to. Our internal monologue is something we hear all day every day until sleep silences it. It just makes sense that the person you are with every day (yourself!) is a nice person to be around. Tearing yourself apart over every little thing just makes you miserable, and there is simply no reason to do it.
This is another change that is extremely easy and free to implement. Simply pay more attention to what you are thinking to yourself, and correct how you say it if you notice negative self talk. For example, instead of:
“I suck at presentations and I’m never going to get better!”
Think, “Presentations are something I need to work on, but I’m getting better every time.”
If you wouldn’t phrase your self talk the same way referring to someone you respect, why would you do it to yourself? You are with yourself all the time, it doesn’t make sense to make that person an overly critical bully.
Take time to relax
You don’t have to fill every second of your day with business in order to have a valid experience. Taking a little bit of time every day for yourself is important for your mental wellbeing. This is especially a struggle for stay at home parents who feel like they can’t go to the bathroom alone, let alone take a 30 minute bath. Still, asking your partner to take the kids for a few minutes while you spend a little personal time with your scrubber (I highly recommend this one) can give you the mental strength to finish the rest of the day.
If you are a single parent, this can be even harder, but reach out to your network. That personal time is vital to your health, and also the health of your children. Being a single parent is extremely stressful, and so taking some “me” time is even more vital.
We have all fallen into the trap of thinking that we don’t matter, even to ourselves. We think that if we decide we are good people worthy of attention and respect that it makes us somehow arrogant. The truth is that valuing yourself as a person makes you better able to deal with life, and makes you a better person overall. Make the world a better place and start giving yourself that important self care you deserve.