As a member of BlogHer’s Life Well Lived panel I periodically get called upon to answer a question. This time the question is,
How do you put yourself first? How does taking time for yourself help make you happier?
BlogHer expert Dr. Aymee says you can increase your happiness by making time for yourself each and every day and I wholeheartedly agree.
Putting myself first doesn’t mean making sure I get me-time before everything else but it does mean making sure there’s some me-time each day. These days getting that me-time doesn’t come at the cost of anybody else’s time since my daughter is now in college and my son is a reasonably independent, self-sufficient sixteen-year old. I don’t have a spouse or significant other so there are no demands there. When my kids were younger, making time for me was very difficult and something I rarely did. There was always so much to juggle. When I did, I felt guilty. It felt selfish.
One of the ladies I interviewed about divorce gave me the analogy of the oxygen masks on an airplane and how the instructions are always that if you are traveling with young children, you must put your own mask on first before helping them. Now I can see that taking some time to put yourself first isn’t about being selfish, it’s about making sure you’re healthy and able to help others, to be the best you can be. So if you have young children and you’re struggling with me-time, I hope this will help you to put yourself first.
I always have to start my day with a decent breakfast – usually an omelet and a cup of tea with a quick read of the local paper and getting up fifteen minutes early to make sure I have time for this is easy. I can get that prepared while my son is getting his breakfast and getting ready to leave for school. That time spent over breakfast makes all the difference in helping me to be both physically and emotionally prepared for the day.
My other typical me-time comes at the very end of the day when I retreat to bed and take a few minutes to read before falling asleep. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I always read a few pages although I have to say that these days, Words With Friends is interfering with my reading! Whether it’s reading or playing a game, taking a few minutes to do something for pure enjoyment helps me unwind and relax. I’m not a big TV watcher so ensuring there’s time for this is usually easy.
At the weekends, finding me-time typically means me making it a priority over the long list of chores but happily, it’s become such a habit now that it isn’t as difficult as it was. I will say that an added benefit of shared custody is that I am child-free alternate weekends but I still have to make the commitment to me-time and not simply tackle the to-do list.
My weekend me-time is usually about exercising and especially exercising with friends. It might be walking, hiking, yoga, skiing or most recently I’ve started cycling. I know the exercise itself has health benefits but the bigger pay back for me is simply catching up with my friends. It’s not just idle chit chat – we use the time to exchange ideas and suggestions on whatever challenges we’re facing at that moment and we cover all topics … exes, dating, parenting, schooling, home maintenance, money …. the list goes on. And this is where taking the time for myself makes me happier – it helps me keep my problems in perspective and to find solutions them.
Is it easy for you to put yourself first? What does putting yourself first mean for you?