When you think of putting yourself first, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I'm going to take a guess and say it's exercise. And while it's important to be active, there are many ways to put yourself and your health first. Some that take two minutes and some that take 30 minutes. However, no matter what you do, you should know... YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You matter in this world. And you matter to others.
I Told Myself "You Are Important" But Was I Practicing It...
In college, I thought that putting myself first meant being physically fit. So, I was in the gym or the weight room a lot. I made time for it. But, I never did much else to take care of myself. Because to me, putting myself first, meant exercise and nothing else. I did nothing else to take care of myself, only focusing on the body.
I played softball and my dad had me in the weight room all the time. Then, when I went to college to play softball, once again I was in the weight room, on the track, or running somewhere. This is all I knew. I would tell myself "You are important" and that's why I'm lifting.
So, after college, I continued the same pattern. I continued weight training because I thought it's what made me healthy. But... I HATE weight training and I was miserable.
At the age of 25, I still exercised but not as much weight training. But I still felt like there was something missing. Like I was missing the mark of putting myself first. I still didn't feel my best. I thought to myself there's gotta be more than just being active and taking care of my body.
Two years later, after a lot of research, I finally realized what it meant to put yourself first. It meant taking care of my body, my mind, and my soul- the trifecta. This is what it means to put yourself first and to know that you are important.
Why Put Yourself First?
Because you are important. Yes, this world is large and there are billions of people. So, it may be hard to think you are important. You may think you are just an ant compared to it. Like when you look out the window of a landing plane and the world looks so small.
But it's NOT true. You matter so much in this world. The people around you, you matter to them. Your family, no matter what kind of family, you matter to them. You matter to the person who you just paid dinner for, to the charity you just donated to, the child you just read a story to, the person you just said thank you to. The list goes on. Because you matter. And no matter how small or big your world may seem, you matter to the people around you.
This is huge. The most important question is do you matter to you? Do you think you are important?
And because you matter and you are important, you need to start taking care of yourself. As a whole being. Mind, body, and spirit.
When you start taking care of yourself as a whole, your happiness will increase.
You will be more able to take care of others when you take care of yourself, too. When you constantly put others first, you began to wear down little by little. It doesn't happen overnight. But eventually, you will feel depleted. And it's hard to take care of others when you have depleted yourself.
Take care of yourself. Make yourself a priority. You will be more available to help others when you do. Not to mention, happiness is contagious. When you are happy, the people you take care of will be happy. Your vibes can be felt.
The Trifecta of a You Are Important Mindset
To put ourselves first, we must think about the body, mind, and spirit.
How we take care of each of them is different. But... you have to take care of all of them in order to feel your best. One can't be left out. You want to feel your best as a whole, not just in pieces or there.
There are many things you can do for each. But, I've found these to be the most effective.
Exercise. Yes, exercise. It's important, of course, but it's not everything. Or it's not the ONLY thing.
It's important to realize that exercise doesn't have to look the same for everyone. You see all those commercials with people who are extremely fit but they look so sweaty. They have to work extremely hard and you're just not into that. And that's OKAY.
I hate weights so I don't do them anymore. I run and do Pilates. Because that's what I like to do.
You like yoga... then DO it. You like resistance bands, do it. Taking a walk, jog, or hike with your dog, go for it. 2-3 pound dumbells? Have at it, my friend. Dancing it out to different kinds of music? More power to ya! The important thing is you are being active and you are enjoying it!
Nutrition is a very large part of taking care of your body. And, frankly, it's more important than exercise. Your body is your engine. What you fuel with is how you perform. Would you put unleaded gas in a race car? No, you would put racing fuel in it.
The same goes for your body. Our body is not meant to process harmful chemicals. So why are we constantly putting harmful chemicals in our bodies? Our body still continues to try to process these chemicals. As a result, your energy becomes depleted because your body has to work so hard.
Fuel your body well like you would a nice performance race car.
We need to think about what we put on our bodies as well. Many bathroom products and household cleaners have chemicals. Many that have chemicals that can harm your health over time. Switching to chemical-free products can keep your health risks low and your body running high.
Be around people who make you feel good and inspired. Being around people who are the opposite can deplete your energy. Also, our brains can be easily influenced. Be around negative people who don't inspire you, you could walk the same path. It becomes exhausting. So, be around those who bring the light. Who bring positive vibes. Because this is a good way to be influenced.
Do something you love and enjoy... no matter what it is. This gives your mind a break of doing the same old thing. In this modern world, we work and work and work. But there has to be a balance. Balance it out with doing something you love and enjoy. And do it by yourself. This gives your mind a break from all the hustle in life.
For example, I've always loved to draw and be creative. And when I was 20, I learned that I loved to write. But I lost it all. I lost it in the hustle of life, trying to get a job right out of school and trying to make money. Thinking back on it is very sad. But I'm happy to say I've found it again starting at the age of 28. I started writing again, drawing, and added Canva/ graphic design. And I'm so glad I did.
Find a hobby or reintroduce yourself to a hobby you love but haven't done in a while.
Learn something new. Buy that online course you've been eyeing. Your mind loves learning new things and there is no time like NOW to learn.
For example, I decided I wanted to learn the piano so I am now taking online piano lessons to learn. It's super fun and exciting when I learn a new chord or a new song!
Consistently practice and write gratitude. I can't write about gratitude enough. It is so important for your soul and for your brain. I'm on a mission to spread the word about gratitude to everyone. Because it is that important. And if you are struggling to think you are important... it's the one thing that can help. It's so powerful.
Writing gratitude rewires and trains your brain to seek positive. It creates new neural pathways and creates happiness. Grateful people sleep better, self-esteem increases, it increase your mental strength, it calms you, it helps you during challenging situations, it increases happiness, and it increases your overall well-being. Gratitude is a huge action, even though it's small and only takes 5 minutes or less.
Meditation is so beneficial when it comes to your soul. Just three times a week for 10 minutes can help. It reduces stress, controls anxiety, promotes emotional health, lengthens your attention span, helps your practice gratitude, improves learning, and is calming.
Meditation has helped me stay calm in stressful situations. I am not a fan of confrontation. And this year, I've had to do a lot of it. Although, it took some coaxing to face these confrontations I was able to do them. I used meditation to help. Now, I didn't meditate right then and there. But meditation is all about breathing and focusing on that even when your mind wanders. I was able to focus my attention on my breathing, calm my heart rate down, and talk during a few challenging situations.
Unplug one time per for an hour and just be. We don't take enough time to just be with ourselves. We constantly have to have the phone by our sides or the TV on. This is one I need to work on myself.
You Are Important
It's not selfish to put yourself and your health first. It's responsible. Because if you don't take care of yourself how are you going to continue taking care of anybody else? Put yourself first. Because you are important and you matter in this world. Do three things every day that help your mind, body, and soul.
Certified Brain Health Coach
Owner of SustainaBRAIN