Why you shouldn't feel guilty about putting yourself first
"Living your life to please other people can have a major impact on your mental health." Honor, 19, shares why it's okay to put yourself and your needs first.
It’s okay to put yourself first. And it’s not something you need to feel guilty about.
Thinking about your own mental wellbeing before others is something a lot of people find hard to do. But living your life to please other people can have a major impact on your mental health. While it’s nice to be kind and considerate of other people, you have to find the balance of looking after yourself too.
Help yourself before helping others
It’s like when an air steward tells you that if the oxygen mask falls from above you on a plane, you need to put it on yourself first so that you can help the others around you after. How are you meant to help anybody else if you can’t help yourself? Your body is the thing that you have to carry with you through life and that’s why it’s crucial for you to look after it. You should treat your body as if it’s the body of someone you love.
It’s so important to be able to look inward and ask yourself if you are truly happy. Take a moment to ask yourself “what do I need right now? Am I happy with what I’m doing and am I improving my mental health?” Putting yourself and your needs first is not selfish. It’s something we should all do because we all matter.
First step: self-care
There are so many ways to start putting yourself and your mental health first; even basic self-care is a good first step. Taking even a few moments with yourself to look after your body - like doing a skincare routine, washing or doing make-up - can be a valuable time to be checking in with yourself.
Particularly with multiple lockdowns happening at the moment, it’s not unusual for you to be feeling unmotivated, depressed or anxious. So really, now is a more important time than ever to practise self-care.
Try to take time and do some things you enjoy. It’s obviously harder to do that now than it was before with limited places to go, but always make time for the things that make you happy. If you are someone that works from home or you’re doing online classes, remember to take a step back. Give yourself a break, especially from computer and phone screens. Even with regular breaks from classes, when you feel like you are starting to spiral, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can sometimes feel like you are completely alone, but I can assure you that other people are feeling the exact same thing.
Making sure you have a good and healthy sleep pattern will benefit you massively because sleep is so important for your mental health. Avoid watching the news before you sleep, and try to create a routine so you go to sleep and wake up at consistent times every day. This will help your overall health, and will give you more motivation and energy.
Everybody feels unsure at this time, and even though the future is unclear, remember that looking after yourself shouldn’t just be a luxury, but something you do automatically. Never feel like you have to carry guilt about it.
Author: Honor, 19
Where to get help
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