If you are a woman and you’re reading this, when I ask you who’s the most important person in your life, do you immediately think of someone else?
Would you think it insanely selfish if I told you the most important person in your life needs to be you? I am betting you just balked at the very idea.
As women in today’s society, we’re often encouraged to put everyone else’s needs before our own.
The problem with this mentality however is the law of diminishing returns. If we don’t take care of ourselves we have less to give everyone else.
Now I’m not over here advocating for you to tell your kids and partner to screw off so you can sit on the couch watching soap operas and eating bon bons.
What I AM telling you is if you don’t make your rest, your diet, your exercise, and your mental space the number one priorities, no one else will, and that is going to eventually affect everything else. It’s the reason why they tell us in the airplane to put our oxygen masks on first- because if you pass out you’re no help to anyone.
Here are the 5 things I want you to start doing NOW to put yourself as the most important person in your life (and trust me – it’s OKAY to make these things priorities!!)
1. Get Enough Sleep
This seems like a no brainer, and I understand if you have a child or children under 2 years old this might not be realistic. So, if you fit in that category, I am guessing you’re already doing your best.
However, if you do not have wee ones that demand you at 2 AM, and you are just cutting sleep corners to get more out of life, it’s time to stop it. It’s time to get 7 to 8 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep.
If you need help getting better sleep, there are a MILLION different articles to help you.
You can take supplements like melatonin and tryptophan, you can use lavender spray and a lavender essential oil diffuser, you can drink chamomile tea, you can meditate before bed, make sure your room is dark, turn the fan on for white noise, wear ear plugs if your partner snores.
Whatever you need to do- starting today, go to bed at least 7 and a 1/2 hours before you need to get up, and get your damn sleep.
2. Lift Heavy Weights
I’m not advocating for this because I’m a weight lifter. I’m telling you to start pumping some iron at least three days a week because of the protective and NECESSARY benefits weight lifting provides.
If you don’t you WILL lose your muscle mass as you age, and this will affect everything from your balance to your bone density.
We have enough studies out already demonstrating how amazing lifting weight is for our bodies, so I shouldn’t have to beleaguer the point.
But if I do, let me tell you- I had an 83-year-old woman client comment that the coffee pot was getting heavy. Do you want that to be you?
Or how about doctors often think it’s not the fall that breaks the hip, but the hip breaking that causes the fall. Lifting weights and maintaining muscle mass are critical for bone health. Prevent osteoporosis- become friends with a squat rack. Need more reasons?
Weight lifting increases resting metabolism which will counteract the effects of your metabolism slowing down as you age.
It also helps your butt look good, and it will help prevent knee and hip issues (strengthen the muscles around the joint takes the impact off the joint).
The last point I will make is this: I’ve seen so many women with shoulder and back issues that could have been prevented if they’d maintained their upper body strength.
You need those muscles to be able to sit and stand upright! Need I say more? Even if you hate it, suck it up and do it. Find a friend, join a gym, and go.
3. Get Stretching
Losing flexibility is no fun. What’s even less fun is not being able to put your shoes and socks on because you can’t reach your feet.
You might not see a problem now, but it will become one sooner rather than later.
Get in the habit of moving through some dynamic or static stretches at least a couple of times a week. Even better is attending a yoga class, but if it’s not in the budget, there are a ton of youtube videos that will walk you through stretch routines.
Why is staying flexible so important? Because when your muscles are tight, you have poor circulation, pressure on your joints, and decreased reaction time. In fact, having tight neck and shoulder muscles can actually impair your cognition (read decreased blood flow to your brain!).
So, find a routine that works, and get in the habit of stretching.
4. Find 10 minutes a Day for You, and You Alone
Most women are natural givers, and sometimes at the end of the day we’ve given it all away, and have nothing left for ourselves.
This is not a sustainable practice. Ultimately, we end up resenting the people in our lives because our energy is not renewed.
Get in the habit of finding 10 minutes a day to just do you. Maybe you will need to lock yourself in a closet, or sit in the driveway in the car.
However you have to make it happen- give yourself 10 minutes where it’s just you, by yourself, where you can breathe, relax, and just exist. I promise you, doing this will make life so much more manageable.
5. Feed Yourself the Foods YOU Need
When you are making everyone else’s meals, do you put your food on the bottom of the priority list?
You know what happens when you do that? You don’t give your body what it needs to run efficiently. Women need more iron and folate than men.
These are nutrients that if you don’t get enough of will leave you feeling tired, depressed, and overall pretty crappy. You get to make sure you are eating the right foods.
Don’t sacrifice your needs, your health, for those around you because in the end everyone loses when you do that. Put your dietary needs at the top of the list. If you feed everyone the way YOU need to eat, by default everyone else will be getting what they need.
I get it. We are taught as women to put everyone else first.
And sometimes it’s inevitable. It also feels good to take care of people, to see your friends and family happy and healthy.
But if you don’t make YOU the number one priority, over time it will fall apart. Then like a lot of my clients you’ll be trying to play catch up. And sometimes even with all the effort in the world the damage will be done.
You can’t reverse years of neglect. You can manage where you are now, but wouldn’t it be better to prevent it from the get go?
And if you have young women in your life, isn’t it the right thing to do to be the best example? To teach them to prioritize their health and show them what a thriving healthy woman looks like?
Women make up half of the earth’s population. It’s time we value who we are, put our own needs on the same level as everyone else, and live the lives we were meant to live.