5 Ways to Put Yourself First in a Healthy Way

By: Marilyn Fettner

Are you always taking care of everyone else and forgetting about yourself? Do you find it hard to give yourself permission (or even remember) to consider your own happiness, needs, and self-care – in addition to everyone else’s?

Keep in mind that putting yourself first is NOT selfish. Just like your friends, family, and significant other need to be taken care of, so do you! And if you don’t take care of yourself, your mental, emotional, and physical energy will be compromised, making it difficult to take care of anyone else.

Here are 5 ways to put you first and set healthy boundaries

  1. Check-in with your self-talk

We are constantly bombarded with mixed messages that can result in negative self-talk. For example, we are told it’s important to have a positive self-image, and that we should eat healthily and exercise – but the media also tell us we need to buy tons of products to make ourselves better because we’re not yet good enough. No matter how much you go through the motions of self-care, if your head’s not in it and you don’t believe in and accept yourself, you won’t feel the full effects.

  1. Get active

Who can work out when there’s work to be done? The trick is to find simple ways to weave physical activity into your life. You don’t need to train for a marathon, but you can do small things everyday that keep you moving – such as, walking or biking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and avoiding drive-throughs by walking in to get your coffee or food. 

  1. Learn to say no

Being a generous, compassionate person is wonderful. However, sacrificing yourself by saying “yes” to things that deplete your time and energy is not practicing good self-care and is definitely not being fair to yourself. There are polite approaches to saying “no” – figure out which best fit your style and the situation and begin putting them into practice.

  1. Advocate for yourself

Stand up for what you need and deserve – whether it’s your boss, your friends, or that inner voice in your head that’s pushing for a late-night email check, or insisting you listen until 1 am to a friend’s repetitive complaining. Making yourself a priority means figuring out what you need and deserve – and ensuring that you get it.

  1. Ask for help 

If it’s hard for you to say no to others, it’s probably equally hard for you to ask people for help or a favor. To free yourself from this, realize and accept that other people generally don’t feel guilty or uncomfortable when they say no. Plus -most people truly want to help others and may even be flattered that you’ve asked them for help.

You don’t need to feel guilty about putting yourself first. By learning new strategies, setting healthy boundaries, and practicing self-compassion, you’ll begin to see and feel the results of being more centered, balanced, and self-fulfilled – which will benefit everyone around you. 

Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace — to build your skills for creating personal boundaries – to put yourself first in a healthy way.