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How often do you put yourself first? When you do manage it, how does it make you feel? If the word ‘guilty’ comes to mind, you are not alone. Many of us end up doing all manner of things for others, and continually putting ourselves last on the list.
There are, however, ways to change that. If you want to put yourself first this week (and from now on, without guilt), read some of my suggestions. You’ll soon realise each of these has positive knock-on effects that will enhance your physical and mental wellbeing – perhaps in some surprising ways!
SET ASIDE SOME MEDITATION TIME
Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t need to meditate for hours. Even 10 minutes can make the world of difference to you. I find meditating for 10 minutes each morning helps me to centre and focus my attention before the day really gets started. You may find midday a better time or even last thing at night to help calm your mind before bed. Experiment to see what works best – but don’t be afraid to do it.
If you’re new to meditation then start by clearing your mind and when thoughts appear, as they always do, simply let them pass by like clouds without engaging with them. Use this time to centre yourself and feel a wave of calm trickling over your head, your shoulders, and down your body. You'll soon get used to enjoying these peaceful few minutes and then you may want to explore other ways to expand your practice.
Using aromatherapy as part of your meditation practice is particularly helpful if you need help calming a busy mind, winding down after a hard day or if you are looking to cultivate particular emotions. Diffuse the oils or light an aromatherapy candle mindfully created for use during meditation - click here to see our full collection of soy wax meditation candles.
Mindfulness means acknowledging the moment you are in. Check in with yourself several times a day. This is a quick process, but it is harder than it sounds to achieve. The more often you do it, the easier it will become. This in turn makes it easier to identify those times when you need to take better care of yourself.
You’re also less likely to get caught up in attending to others and neglecting yourself in the process. By focusing on the now, you can identify those times when you may be feeling pressured, overwhelmed, or stressed. You can then work on why that’s the case, and find alternative methods to help you avoid making the same mistakes again.
SWAP A SHOWER FOR A BATH
Showers are great, but they’re also efficient. When we’re time-poor, we hop in the shower. But a bath is a relaxing, luxurious thing – especially if we add in our favourite aromatherapy bath soak or oil. Take the time you would have spent showering to run a bath and relax in that instead. (You can always get a quick task done elsewhere while it’s running!)
Light a natural aromatherapy candle, grab a book… set the scene. Do it right, and you will take good care of your mind, body and soul in one fell swoop. That sounds like a wonderful idea to me.
DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY THAT MAKES YOU FEEL HAPPY
What could this be? Maybe you’ll grab that book you’ve been meaning to read for ages. Maybe you have a TV programme saved to watch that you can relax in front of on Friday night. Perhaps it simply means making a freshly-brewed cup of rich coffee from your favourite coffee beans each morning. If it means something to you, if it feels like a luxurious treat, if it makes you happy… make time for it.
You can see it doesn’t need to be something big or time-consuming to make you happy. For me, it’s a hot cup of tea, best enjoyed first thing in the morning. What works for you?
REFOCUS YOUR ‘ME TIME’ AS ‘SELF-CARE TIME’
Sometimes, simply thinking of something in a different way – taking a different approach, if you will – can change the way you view it. I used to feel guilty if I spent 20 minutes reading a book before bed each night. Then I realised it was the perfect way to unwind and to lose myself in another world. I noticed I slept better, and felt more relaxed.
If you feel guilty for having a little ‘me time’, try thinking of it as time spent caring for yourself, instead. If you don’t take care of yourself each week, you’ll soon feel run down, stressed, and frustrated. Taking time out may feel like a luxury, but it is anything but.
HOW CAN YOU PUT YOURSELF FIRST THIS WEEK?
What works for me may not work for you. The above should be treated as suggestions to inspire you to move towards your own guilt-free self-care treats. If it feels good, chances are you have chosen the right thing. And don’t worry if you try a couple of things and don’t get the desired effect. Keep experimenting – you’ll find the best guilt-free options that work for you.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.