Let’s talk about Prioritizing You! From a very young age, we are taught to be selfless and do for others first, but as we get older and we begin to take it to the extreme and it starts hurting us or holding us back, that’s when it becomes an issue. Self-compassion and self-care are pivotal to creating the life we desire for ourselves and those around us. When we give until our cup is empty, we have nothing left and if we don’t fill it back up, that’s when stress increases, our mood darkens, and our attitude turns negative. By being over-committed and not taking care of ourselves, we can’t be present for others. We just go through the motions or are cranky and irritable with the people around us that matter most. We lose who we are and who we want to show up as because we are so busy trying to get everything done, and we begin to let our inner critic rule us and we are too busy to notice others’ feelings. Our anxiety, stress and overwhelm begins to affect everyone around us.
So how do you start making yourself a priority so you can show up better in all areas of your life? The answer is simple-schedule it in. One way you can start prioritizing yourself first is beginning with setting yourself up for success by establishing your morning and evening routines. These routines will help you to be happier, more productive, and generally more even-keeled throughout your days. You’ll be less stressed and you’ll also have more patience and focus with your loved ones-including yourself, which is well worth establishing some routines!
Let’s start with your morning routine. First of all, every one of us is different. Some are morning people, some are not. So it’s important to find what works best for you, and then set your own body’s internal clock. Whether you start your day with breakfast or brunch isn’t what matters. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t and join the 5 o’clock club when you don’t go to bed until midnight, just because someone said you “should”. Whatever time it begins, it’s how you start your mornings that sets up the rest of your day. Starting each day with intention sets the tone, and for most people, simple is better when it comes to morning times. If you take all of the decision making out of your morning, you can focus on taking some time to yourself to get in the right mindset before starting to work on tasks. Make sure that before you start your evening routine that we will discuss shortly, you take a little time to get prepped for the day ahead. Do a quick brain dump, where you write down your to-do list for the next day, and make sure nothing is nagging you to remember when you’re trying to go to sleep. Pick out your clothes, prep your food for breakfast and lunch, and pack everything that needs to go out the door with you the next morning. Doing these simple tasks means they won’t need to get rushed through in the morning, and you can take the time you need to start your day on the right foot. Most of us already have some kind of morning routine, including things like drinking a glass of water, brushing your teeth, showering, dressing, and eating breakfast and/or drinking coffee. These essentials are habits, so they don’t take any extra effort and are automatic which is perfect for the morning when you are trying to fully wake and aren’t at your peak yet for doing more productive tasks. Adding in simple activities such as listening to something motivational such as music or a podcast, while you are getting ready doing these tasks is something that is easy to incorporate. You could also add in some light stretching or yoga, going for a walk or a quick run- especially if you have to take the dog out anyway! doing some meditation or mindfulness, and journaling about what you are looking forward to in your day. These low key activities will set up a positive expectation and intention for the day while requiring minimal effort.
So now that you’ve set yourself up for a successful day, let’s talk about winding down in the evening. Evening routines are something that we all have as children, but somewhere along the line, we tend to lose track of them, generally as we move into adolescence and adulthood and those routines are no longer imposed on us by our parents. For a young child, their routine may look something like getting their pajamas on, brushing their teeth, getting a drink of water, reading a bedtime story, and grabbing their favorite stuffed animal to cuddle with. Then it’ lights out! There is a set routine, an expectation that sleep is coming, and by the time it does, they are ready for it. But as adults, we somehow think we can work up until the last second, and then we are frustrated that we aren’t getting an amazing night’s sleep. It takes an average of 2 hours to really wind down your brain, so your evening routine needs to start early. Prepping for the next day so that those things are off your mind, bathing, and getting into pajamas can be done earlier in the evening after you know you are home for the rest of the night. Then you can decide how you like to unwind. Reading, journaling about the day and what you are grateful for, listening to calming music, and meditating are all great ways to wind down. Cutting off any electronics usage an hour before bed will help your brain to calm down by eliminating over stimulation. Keep your room cool, dark and quiet, and keep your electronics at a distance-either on the other side of the room if you use it as an alarm, or in the other room if not-and silence your notifications since you aren’t constantly waking up whenever the phone pings or buzzes. Eliminating these distractions will ensure that you get more restful, uninterrupted sleep. And who doesn’t want a good night’s sleep? If you have been in bed for a while and can’t sleep, you can always get up and go into another room and do a quiet activity such as reading until you get tired again and go back to bed. Just don’t fall into the trap of turning back on those electronics and exciting your brain all over again, or you’ll have an even harder time getting to sleep and getting the deeper rest your mind and body need.
To get yourself started, write down your ideal morning and evening routines, and start incorporating them into your schedule. See what a difference it makes in your mood and focus throughout the day. The benefits will compound with time. Take time off for yourself to spend time doing things you love to do, and also with the people who are most important in your life. Be present in the moment during mealtimes, in your morning and evening routines, and during quality time with others. Focus on the task at hand you will be surprised how much more you get one when you are mindful of the present moment and not trying to multitask or letting distractions pull you in a thousand directions. Work on one thing at a time, and take time to do what you love, not just what you think you should be doing. You will show up healthier, happier and more productive in all areas of your life because you put yourself first!
If you’d like to explore further what having the support of a mental wellness coach looks like, let’s talk.