It’s good to be selfish with your time when balancing day-to-day responsibilities. Tips, like setting aside “me” time, may help you.
It can be difficult to put our needs first when others rely on our support or request assistance with a task.
But setting aside time to observe your thoughts and feelings, and attend to your needs first, can improve your mental health.
Prioritizing your needs isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s essential for your overall well-being. Consider the following seven tips to help you learn how to be more selfish with your time, without feeling guilty for putting your needs first.
Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night rather than staying up to accommodate something someone else needs or wants, suggests Dr. Gail Saltz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and host of the “How Can I Help?” podcast from iHeartRadio.
If you’re a parent, caregiver, or find it difficult to sleep at night consider allowing yourself to rest during moments of downtime.
Allotting time for rest and relaxation can relieve the impact of your body’s fight, flight, or freeze response, therefore improving your mental health.
“Using the word selfishness implies that you are choosing your needs above all others without regard for their feelings,” says Dr. Natalie Bernstein, a licensed psychologist in Pittsburgh, PA.
“Rather than thinking of the act of taking care of yourself as selfish, try to see it as necessary for your own mental health. Once you take care of yourself and address your needs, you’ll more likely be available to help others in a more meaningful way.”
Check-in with yourself. In order to give yourself what you need, you have to have some awareness, Dr. Bernstein explains.
Consider asking yourself: “How am I feeling right now?” “What is it that I need?”
Dr. Saltz recommends carving out 30 minutes a day to exercise or perform a relaxation method.
You may try activities, such as:
- deep breathing
- a warm bath
- low impact exercise
Setting limits and saying no is very important when you are trying to improve your mental health.
Taking care of yourself begins on the inside and if you’re continually directing all your energy and efforts outwardly for others, you may end up feeling depleted and overwhelmed.
Build yourself up first and avoid overextending, Dr. Bernstein suggests.
It may be helpful to express if you find it difficult to balance your daily responsibilities and care for yourself. Consider speaking with a loved one or trusted friend to determine how to better prioritize your time.
They may help you delegate important tasks, lend a helping hand with errands, or offer encouraging words to help you focus on your needs.
Consider speaking with a mental health professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety much of the day or experience sadness for a long period of time, Dr. Saltz explains.
Your mental health is just as important as the mental health of someone else.
It’s not your responsibility to make life as easy as possible for everyone else.
Try to remove any judgment and words such as “selfish,” from your vocabulary, and begin to think of your actions as positive steps for self-improvement, Dr. Bernstein suggests.
If you find yourself increasingly tired, frustrated, or without patience, it may be time to turn inward and focus on yourself.
Dr. Bernstein suggests giving yourself some nurturing – get more sleep, take a walk, or even leave work an hour early if you can. It’s not selfish to want to feel better.
Selfishness is important for mental health to be able to take care of your needs.
“It’s needed for sleep, nutrition, relaxation time for de-stressing, exercise, etc. It’s so important to not overload yourself to the point of burnout. You may need to be selfish at home, at school or at employment,” says Dr. Saltz.
Sometimes this means prioritizing yourself above that of someone else in your life whether that’s a co-worker or boss, a family member, or a friend.
Some people may view prioritizing yourself as selfish, but that’s because, from their perspective they wanted to be prioritized, Dr. Saltz explains.
If you’re used to doing so, then it may also feel strange and selfish to you because you are used to putting others first to feel good about yourself and not selfish.
But if there’s no water in your own well, you can’t give anyone else a drink either. So, it’s important to sometimes be selfish, as in loving yourself enough to put your needs first, for your mental health.
It’s also important to remember that self-care isn’t selfish.
Selfishness is crucial to protect your mental health.
You can start prioritizing yourself by:
- getting enough sleep
- asking others for support when you’re going through a hard time
- setting aside time in your day to relax and recharge
If you’re used to putting the needs of others before your own, begin by practicing more self-compassion and self-love. What you need is just as important.