Why focusing on you should be at the top of your list, not the bottom

Side view of pretty content woman touching lips and contemplating on future choice and decision on gray background

I recently came across this quote from Oprah & I love it:

‘The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give to yourself 

I haven’t always been loving to myself, in fact, if I’m really honest, in years gone by I treated myself pretty shoddily.

Since stepping into the world of personal development I’ve changed a lot & how I treat myself now is up there as one of my highest priorities.

I was a classic second child, striving hard to prove my worth. I’ve always had a strong work ethic & although I don’t suffer from perfectionism, I struggle to switch off & relax because it can feel like being lazy & I pride myself on working hard!

Thankfully the personal development work I’ve done has addressed the worthiness & I’m learning how important and empowering self-care is. I used to be in the very common camp of taking care of myself when I had the time! Do you know anyone who has ‘spare time’ in modern life? I don’t & I definitely used to just expect my body & mind to cope, while I unwittingly treated them both like dirt!

It was no coincidence that during those times I was regularly unwell, I wasn’t particularly happy & my life was pretty unsatisfying; despite having, what probably appeared to others, a great life.

So many great things have come from my personal development work, probably the greatest is the awareness of how much control I have over how I feel. As someone who has historically been a slave to her emotions, I can’t understate how liberating this is!

The really good news is that the habits I’ve created to make and keep me feeling great don’t take much time, and they’re really pleasurable – bonus! The key thing is that they work & so I make sure I maintain them as good habits because I want to stay feeling great as often as possible.

I prioritise them, which means that I don’t just do them when I feel like it, I do them 99% of the time. I can’t hand on heart say 100%, because very occasionally I allow life to get in the way, but that really is the exception because I know the difference they make to my life

Doing things when we don’t feel like it is the difference between being good & being great. That’s my commitment to myself, it doesn’t matter whether I feel like it, it’s even more important to do something when I don’t feel like it. To me that’s a fact, so I keep it at the forefront of my awareness.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, I don’t accept the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse, it’s all about priorities, it’s about making time for what really matters & not allowing the day to run you.

Sukhraj S. Dhillon said “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” which I love. Even if meditating isn’t your thing, this underlines the premise that if you think you’re too busy then you need to spend extra time on a mindful activity.

I’m not going to preach about what you should & shouldn’t do from a mindfulness perspective, my practices have changed over the years, adding more the more I learn. When I first ventured into this amazing world of personal growth I did a 10 minute guided visualisation once a day, I did it every day for a year though!

Doing things when we don’t feel like it is the difference between being good & being great

Today I still do that guided visualisation and I’ve added the following:

A guided meditation – I do this each morning while I feed my horses, at 15 minutes long it’s perfect for starting my day with good intentions.

Gratitude journaling – in the morning I write down 20 things I’m grateful for & 3 more in the evening. I originally started writing 3 in the morning & 3 in the evening & extended the morning process when I felt the amazing benefit it had. In the evening I also capture what my vibe has been for the day, on a 1-10 scale.

A daily hypnosis – I have a few hypnosis recordings & I tend to do one for a while & then change it for another. They range from 15-30 minutes & I love the process of drifting off inside myself & coming back feeling refreshed.

I do the guided visualisation that I mentioned earlier before I go to bed – this is 10 minutes long, it’s nice & relaxing as well as helping me to keep my goals at the forefront of my mind.

Other things I do include:

As a non negotiable I make sure I have a minimum of 7.5 hours sleep, 8.5 if I can. This means that I have a pre-bedtime routine of no screens within an hour of when I’m intending to sleep, I don’t work within 2 hours of sleep & I don’t eat within 3 hours before I’m planning to sleep. I love to read before I go to sleep, it’s my escape from reality.

I ensure that I eat well & that I’m hydrated. I stay away from highly processed food, I drink minimal alcohol, this wasn’t always the case & if you’d like to read about my experience you can find my recent blog post here.

I run 3 times a week, usually 5k, with the exception of during the summer when it’s too hot, then I drop it down to 2-2.5k & build back up when it cools down. I’ve been running for 6 months now & I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at just how good it makes me feel.

I don’t accept the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse, it’s all about priorities

Since including these aspects into my busy life & prioritising them I haven’t been unwell once, in fact I can’t actually remember when I was last ill. I feel good in myself & my energy levels are the best I’ve known them, even with being on the other side of 40! I can genuinely say that I feel the best that I have & I know that these habits & routines are the reason. If you’d like to include some of them in your life & it sounds like a lot then start with 1 & see how you get on. It would have felt too much to me to have started all of them at once; their purpose is to help you to feel good, not to overwhelm you, so start small & see how you get on.

They support me to show up as my best self; I support my clients to improve their lives & achieve their goals & I can’t do that fully if I’m not at my best. I owe it to my clients to look after myself to be there for them & to be the example of what’s possible.

I’m also very aware that how I treat myself influences how other people will treat me. As a reformed people pleaser I used to be run ragged trying to please everyone. It was exhausting & a very quick route to a miserable life. These ways of looking after myself send a message to my subconscious that I matter and I get to feel good as a result, I see that as a win-win. 

How about you? Do you prioritise you? I learnt that it has to come from me & it really is worth it in terms of how much these practices have improved my life. The key is creating them as habits, then it becomes automatic, like brushing your teeth. When that’s the case it feels strange not to do them.

Give it a go & see how much you can improve your life. Do something today that your future self will thank you for. If you’d like some support in how to prioritise self-care, or for anything else that will improve your life then get in touch to see how I can help.

You really are worth it.

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