For a long time, I’ve been saying that my health and self-care are my top priorities. It slowly dawned on me, however, that my actions did not match my words.
In contemplating the discrepancy, I listed the ways I was putting something else above myself. From that list, I came up with a few key ways to put yourself last.
- Leave yourself completely off of your schedule
- I scheduled in all meetings and appointments, then all work-related activities. Then the schedule was full.
- Ignore your body when it is calling for something
- My personal favorite is to ignore when my body wants to move after I’ve been sitting for far too long at my computer.
- A close second is sticking to what I ‘should’ be doing when even a few minutes of rest would help me to be more present.
- Eat on the run. Socialize on the run. Exercise on the run. Heck, do everything on the run!
- We all have our own version of “on the run.” Personal clocks seem to be speeding up in proportion to the speed of technology change. What are we all running from? Ourselves?
- Make sure that everyone else’s needs are paramount.
- Mothers are especially susceptible to this one, understandably. Even those of us who are not moms are not immune, since we had a mom who likely did it and kindly passed it down.
So, I knew how I was putting myself last, but what would it really take to make my health a priority? How could I put my own self-care first, or at least move it up the list so it’s no longer at the bottom?
Once I got over my fear that if I really put my health and self-care first there wouldn’t be time left in the day for any other activities and I would end up homeless and starving, I got down to business. As I’ve been exploring making changes in my life to answer the above questions, here’s what I’ve learned about what it takes to make self-care a priority.
#1: Radical honesty
As I found out, it’s one thing to say that self-care is important; it’s another to actually back it up with action. A first step is to be aware of the ways you are putting yourself last or paying lip service to your health and not yet taking the appropriate steps to make it a priority.
Be honest with yourself without judgment. It’s not about making yourself wrong for what you’re doing, it’s about acknowledging what is and what you would like to be, so that you can move in that direction.
Of course, you might also need to be honest with friends and family in your life. Educating them about your autoimmune disorder and helping them understand why you are taking time for yourself can help ease the way as you balance your self-care with family and social time.
Here’s my radical honesty: My deep underlying fears cause me to choose work over self-care when I’m on autopilot (which is more than I care to admit). I would like to trust that putting self-care first will help me feel happier and make new choices that support me far more effectively.
What is your radical honesty?
#2: Clear ‘why’
Making self-care a priority should not be another “should!” Unless I’m clear about my why and keep it front and center, I can turn any decision into a should (I’ve decided to do this so now I should follow through!). When I know my why, however, I’m pulled forward rather than having to push myself.
How do you find your why? My preferred way is to take your goal or intention (i.e. make self-care a priority) and ask, “Why do I want this?” Take the answer that pops into your mind, and ask the same question. Take the next answer, and ask again. Repeat.
Keep digging down until you get an answer that makes your heart sing. That’s your why. If you have more than one surface-level why, dig on each one; either you’ll find they end up at the same place or you’ll have multiple inspirations to help you make the choices to amplify your self-care.
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