Hey friend, I’ve got a secret. I haven’t always put myself first and it affected me in the worst way. For so long, self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and physical illness ruled my life. As a wife, mother, writer, and volunteer, my personal needs were the last things I thought of when checking off items on my laundry list of daily priorities.
One day, I woke up feeling defeated. I felt as if nothing mattered anymore. None of my goals were attainable, so why continue to try? I stopped working. I began to have symptoms of anxiety which later turned in to full blown panic attacks. Something had to change. I was overwhelmed and under inspired. My physical and mental health were at risk, and if I kept going down that road it would likely lead to disaster. Luckily, I had a friend that loved me enough to say, “Stop, you are doing too much.”
As a military spouse, we are known to do ALL the things. I have learned over the years that it is so easy to get lost in all the things. Finding yourself and doing what’s best for you is tough, especially when you don’t know where to start. Here are three ways you can begin putting yourself first:
PRACTICE GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
I was the woman working nonstop every single day, believing that the harder I worked, the more I would obtain in life. I was tired and irritated all time. I could not focus, and I had a hard time sleeping. I unintentionally talked negatively about myself. I learned to counteract this with daily affirmations. Daily affirmations are a great and easy way to transform your thinking. Get in the habit of telling yourself that you’re beautiful strong. If you want something more intuitive, go online a look for a list of affirmations you can print. Cut them into small pieces. Place them in a jar. Every day, pull out a piece of paper and read the affirmation aloud.
Another way to practice good mental health is by talking to someone about the things that are bothering you. Being open and honest is one of the best ways to alleviate stress from within. Establishing clear boundaries in relationships helps you, your partner, and your friends maintain respect for one another.
IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO
I’ll have to admit, I like it better when those around me are happy. But, sometimes saying no is what’s best for me. Do you have a hard time saying no? I suffered from a severe case of FOMO in my career. I was afraid I was going to lose that one good opportunity that may have come along. That isn’t true. Opportunities will come and go. Saying no to one won’t close all the doors in your future. Try making a list of priorities in your personal life and your career. Decide what things you absolutely cannot say no to, and decide what in your life is negotiable. After a health scare, taking care of my body became something that was non-negotiable for me.
TREAT YOUR BODY WITH RESPECT
Self-care isn’t an option. It’s necessary for your survival. Eating right, getting rest, and staying hydrated can ensure you maintain good cognitive function. Getting enough rest keeps your mood stable and helps you remain alert throughout the day. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, protein, and other vitamin-rich sources will keep your energy levels consistent. Drinking water throughout the day helps your body process your food easier, helps replace oxygen in your blood, and gives you clearer skin. Tell that to your teenage self. Good health care starts with us, in our homes, and at our jobs.
There is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. Matter of fact, it’s the best thing you could do for yourself. Taking a vow of Me First, isn’t selfish. We are no good to others if we are not okay ourselves. Listen to your intuition. If your mind and body are tired, rest. If you’re hungry, eat. If you need to take break, do it. Put yourself first because you are invaluable. Do you, be you, and love you.
Marla Bautista is a military spouse and a mother of three beautiful, talented, and clever children. She is an author, freelance blogger, and speaker. Volunteering within the community, and telling the stories of the people who are often unheard is her passion. She is the Armed Forces Insurance 2018 & 2019 Military Spouse of the Year (Fort Drum).
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