We spend a lot of time taking care of other people in our busy, day to day lives. We might have a job in customer service where we are so busy serving lunch to other people, we don’t even get to eat it ourselves. We might be busy parents who sacrifice ourselves on a daily basis so those kids can go without a single want. Taking care of others may be second nature to people like me and you, but it shouldn’t come at the price of our own self love. Learning to love ourselves is a critical component of helping others, and too often it is something we neglect.
If you think you are neglecting yourself (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), here are 5 tips to get you back on the road to a better life.
Boundaries are a critical part of loving yourself. If you don’t set them, people can walk all over you and not even know they’ve hit a nerve that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you tend to let others invade your personal space or demand more of you than you are ready or willing to give, it may be helpful to sit down and make a list of the things that make you uncomfortable.
Do you hate it when the tots rip open your shower curtain and demand cartoon time, perhaps giving your father-in-law an eyeful? That’s a boundary. Do you want to go home on the weekends to those same tots, but your boss leaves a stack of work for you to get done first on your desk every friday? Again, that’s a boundary.
Addressing these can really help make a difference in the quality of your life, and it will also help others learn to respect you. Whether you need that first cup of coffee before you speak to another human being, or you simply want to put up your feet without being accused of laziness, setting boundaries can make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself.
Give yourself the benefit of positive self talk
Too often we tear ourselves apart with self criticism, a mental dialog we can never escape from because where ever we go, that dialog can still follow us. Make a positive change in your life, by changing how you think about yourself as you are going through the day. Instead of telling yourself, “I suck at writing and I’m never going to be able to finish this essay,” rephrase it.
Empower yourself by recognizing even inside your own mind that you can write, and that your writing skills get better every day. Do this with everything in your life, and every time you feel those negative words creeping back into your brain, change them for a positive outlook. You’ll feel better and probably see an improvement in those same skills, just by changing how you think about them.
You might even want to consider listening to self hypnosis recordings while going to sleep to feed your subconscious mind with positive self talk. Changing the way you talk to and about yourself is really the first step to developing a healthy self image.
Give your body the nutrition it needs to thrive
You can’t survive and remain healthy on anything you get from a drive-thru window. Yes, even if you opted for the salad option. Daily doses of poor quality food can really add up in terms of your health. Be sure to take your vitamins and cook yourself fresh and healthy meals so you can have the energy you need to tackle each day. You deserve food that is good for you, and to enjoy that food as often as you can.
Even if you can’t afford to buy healthy food from the grocery store, or visit a restaurant for a better meal, you can still offer yourself nutrition on the go with dried fruits, and other healthy on-the-go snacks. You can also improve your nutrition simply by opting for water on a daily basis, and keeping yourself hydrated. We can’t always get the best nutrition every single day, but even small steps here and there can make a big difference over time.
End toxic relationships
You know that person who is always there to make you feel dumb? Always gas lighting you, berating you, or belittling you in front of others? That sort of person is just plain bad for you life, and keeping them around is only going to hurt you more deeply. Show yourself the love you deserve by ending relationships with people who drag you down.
You are worth more than being treated like a doormat, and gas lighting is still abusive no matter how innocuous it may seem at the time. If someone is constantly feeding you negative self talk and making you feel bad about yourself, end the relationship. You’ll come away feeling healthier and better for it, and that other person may just learn a thing or two about what is really important in life.
Celebrate your wins
Even if your win may just be getting out of bed, it is worth celebrating. Recognize all of your achievements throughout the day, no matter how big or small they are. Your achievements are all unique and wonderful, and they deserve that little bit of recognition.
Sometimes just keeping track of those small wins in life can give you the boost you need to tackle bigger wins. The beginning of every journey starts with the first step, so if you want to try something new begin making those small wins toward your end goal. Who knows how far you’ll get just by encouraging yourself?
Taking care of yourself is an important part of taking care of other people. You can’t serve others without the energy and health you need to perform those tasks. Running yourself into the ground trying to do just that will only end in everyone becoming miserable. If you’re guilty of paying attention to other people’s needs before your own, stop. Take a deep breath, and really look at your life objectively. Are you helping other people by rushing around madly, covering all those schedules for people you know won’t return the favor? What happens when you fall sick?
Taking care of yourself is building the foundation you need in order to help other people. Begin every day by loving yourself, and appreciating all the unique things that make you who you are.