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Putting Yourself First

Mandy Hale, also known as The Single Woman, put it well when she wrote: “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and prioritise your happiness. It’s necessary.”

But how many of us do live these words?

In a study conducted, it shows that Gen Y-ers are at greater risk for developing mental health issues like anxiety and depression. However, the complications are seen to be worse among women because of lack of balance between career and family. This emerging burnout syndrome among women can be attributed to the lack of attention on their well-being.

In the workplace, for instance, men are 25% more likely to take breaks for personal activities and 35% more likely to spend time for relaxation than their female colleagues.

Effects of Burnout on Women

If we continue to get addicted to being busy and put the needs of others over ours, then we’re constantly exposing ourselves to burnout. According to research, 44% of women experiencing burnout resort to drinking to de-stress and about 71% suffered from altered eating habits; they either end up overeating or undereating.  

Why Women Should Make Their Needs a Priority

Many of us women tend to make our needs as the last items in our priority list. It can be because of the belief that a good woman would sacrifice herself for family and work. It can also be rooted in history where women tend to be the primary caregivers of families and aging parents and end up forgetting their own needs.

Making ourselves as a priority is not a selfish act; in fact, it’s the complete opposite. The following are the reasons why you should start making your needs a priority:

Your job/business benefits from it

You can be a better worker or entrepreneur when you start taking care of yourself. It takes more mental and physical energy for a tired brain and body to do a certain job than it is for a well-rested one.

Pulling an all-nighter for several days in a row can have an impact on your health and productivity. When you deprive yourself of sleep, your levels of leptin and ghrelin are altered.[3] This explains why you tend to go hungrier when you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also lead to decline in cognitive function, making it harder for you to concentrate.[4]

Your health is at stake

Ignoring your body’s signals when it’s tired or hungry can take a toll in your health. It weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to diseases.

You can have better relationship with the people around you

When you constantly neglect your needs, you eventually lose your self-identity. You no longer know what you really want and what makes you happy and fulfilled. As a result, you become passive in relationships.

Passiveness in relationship is not a good thing. It’s like junk food and its empty calories. You are there yet it seems that you’re not. You may be spending time with your partner but you’re not actually providing real value to the relationship because only one person matters.

It can take a toll in your relationship because you will find it harder to get satisfied as you have lost grasp of your values and your needs.

You can take care of the needs of other people better

You cannot give what you don’t have. You cannot give a sound financial advice to someone if you are broke. On the same way, you cannot fully address the needs of the people who matter most to you if you don’t learn to take care of yourself first.

Learning to Put Yourself First

If you’ve been neglecting your needs for years, it can be quite challenging to reboot your system. However, it’s highly doable. The following are strategies on how you can make sure that you’re putting yourself first this time around:

1. Make yourself a priority in every equation

Eisenhower’s important/urgent principle isn’t just a great tool for productivity but is also highly useful for making you recognize your priorities.

Based on the principle, important things are those that lead us towards goal achievement while urgent ones are those things that require immediate attention and are often associated in the achievement of other people’s goals.

Your need to workout, pamper yourself, and feed your passion are important as they lead you to become a better and happier you. And just as you schedule other important things, your needs must come first in your to-do list.

2. Change the way you say things

Instead of saying should, use could or would instead. Shoulds somehow restrict your freedom, implies that you’re doing something because you ought to do it and not because you wanted to do it. It’s a different thing when you’re using could or would as it gives you the feeling that you have the option to do or not to do something.

3. Schedule ‘me’ time

Many women find it hard to prioritize themselves because they believe they don’t have enough time. But the trick towards making your needs a priority is to schedule ‘me’ time. Put it in your calendar and treat it the way you treat other scheduled appointments.

4. Seek out for help

Oftentimes, we neglect our personal needs because of the thing called superman syndrome. We try to do things on our own because we have this perception that we can. We fail to realize that we can only be superhumans, not superheroes. We cannot do everything on our own without ending up in burnout.

Seeking out for help is not just a recognition that you cannot do everything on your own. It’s also saying that your respect your body and your needs and are making a conscious effort to respond to them.

If you’re having a hard time prioritizing your needs because of certain issues like anxiety, depression, relationship, or substance abuse issues, then I can help you. I’m a certified hypnotherapist and have helped thousands of clients gain a better perspective in life and make necessary changes through guided hypnosis.

Making yourself a priority is not selfish. What is selfish is neglecting your needs, allowing yourself to experience burnout and lashing out at people as a result, and being needy in the relationship because you lose your self-identity.

If you value relationships and your contribution in the society as a whole, then learn to put yourself first; there’s no any other better way to do that.


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