• Lydia Ojuka Riley

Go Ahead, be Selfish

“You have to fill your cup. You then give away the overflowing, but you keep a cupful for yourself.”- Wynonna Judd

These days, I take my self care very seriously. No excuses. But there was a time when I would find it difficult to take time for myself before I've made sure everyone else was taken care of. Sound familiar?

As women, we tend to be very empathetic and giving. And honestly it makes sense because it's purely biological. Also, it explains why sometimes it can be so hard to go against those natural instincts!

But when you're burnt out and stressed out giving all our time and effort to others, it leaves no time for yourself. Being exhausted is our mind and body's way of telling us that something isn't right.

But even when it leaves you tired, angry, and drowning in negative thoughts, you ignore those feelings. Why? Because of the fear of what others may think if you say no. If you pass on dinner and drinks. If you're honest with a friend. Or even if you want to pursue a different career. 

But I'm here to tell you that your self care isn't selfish! In fact, it's necessary for you to live the happiest, most authentic life you can.

Why Self Care Isn't Selfish

Decrease Your Stress

Ever try to help someone with a problem when you’re short on patience? This is what living life without a self care time-out can feel like! When you make time to unwind and do the things that bring you joy, it helps you to creative a more happy and positive mental space.

And by regularly working to schedule and create that mental space, you make promises to yourself worthy of keeping. So when you're at your busiest, your needs are at the top of your priority list, and not the first to go.

Focus On Your Needs

The more you put other’s needs over your own, you’re essentially telling yourself that your needs are not as important. Every time you justify letting a friend continue to pick a restaurant you hate but she loves, or continue to take on too much at work, you’re not speaking up for what you want.

No matter how small you think the issue is, don't be so quick to justify it. Of course pick your battles, but by speaking up you're showing up for yourself. You've become your own biggest cheerleader! And it’s an opportunity to honor your authenticity and be truly honest with yourself.

Practice being more vocal with your needs, and watch your friendships and relationships take on a deeper and more honest connection. Because when you're true to yourself, you make more solid decisions about who you surround yourself with, and what you’re willing to tolerate.

Prevent Burnout

Leaving your needs for last can not only affect your mental and emotional health, but also your physical health. It’s no secret that unaddressed stress and anxiety can manifest into more serious medical issues like high blood pressure and overall greater susceptibility to sickness. And it is no different when it comes to preventing burnout from the stress that life can bring you!

When you’re feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted, even the smallest of tasks can seem like an insurmountable mountain. Cue the cycle of negative thoughts and even more stress! This can leave you feeling too emotionally drained to take the time you need. 

But when you take time to recharge, you become more aware of the limitations and boundaries your energy can withstand. You’re less likely to commit to too much. And you'll feel guilty about turning things down because you're no longer letting unrealistic expectations play on your fear. 

Maintains Your Identity

In order to take care of yourself, it's necessary to make the time to do so. Whether it's a monthly essential oil massage that you never skip or speaking up at work, it's important to honor your self care commitments. 

Not only will these mindful habits keep you grounded, but they will teach you to not sacrifice your emotions too quickly or easily. Every time you put time and effort into your self care, you build more confidence in who you are. 

Increases Motivation

You know it takes 28 days to form a habit, right? So imagine what you could do with 28 days of consistently practicing your self care! Not only will it be easier to make your needs a daily priority over time, but it will take far less energy. You'll become so much more aware of you needs that you start frequently noticing when you're lacking time or space for yourself. And doing something to change that!

Creates Personal Awareness

Ever get so caught up in doing, doing, doing that you can’t even remember the last time you ate? Or even took a full breath? Being more aware of these moments, and intentionally taking a much-needed break allows you to stop doing and thinking, and just be.

These moments without distractions are crucial. A clear mind is the perfect time to dissect your cycle of negative thought patterns and identify your personal triggers. When you're more aware of what causes you mental and emotional stress, you can approach your self care with more targeted intention. 

Better Care of Others

When you're left exhausted taking care of others, the last thing on your mind is taking care of yourself. And by participating in your own self care, you allow yourself to actually have more energy to take care of others better, without leaving yourself behind.

If you have a habit in showing up for yourself, its easier to really show up for others and also maintain your self care as a priority. 

Live In The Moment

Are you familiar with the quote, "You don't know what you have until its gone."? Time is so valuable, and putting off your self care for the future can hurt you in the present way more than you know.

Carving out your own sacred mental space when you need it most is a great place to start. Asking yourself what you need in that very moment can make the difference between living a healthy and productive life, and an unhappy, stressed-out one.

When you pay more attention to your needs, you grow to learn more about what you need to live a happy life on your terms. And that’s personal growth at it’s finest!

So relax and take a breather! Stop beating yourself up about the guilt you’re feeling, and start working through it. At first, feeling guilty can be a normal response to taking more time for yourself. But if that guilt and fear start to take away from your ability to focus on your life, it’s time to re-evaluate.

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