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Published on August 7, 2020

Why It Matters to Take Care of Yourself First (And How to Do It)

Why It Matters to Take Care of Yourself First (And How to Do It)

Do you ever get that feeling that you’re being pulled into a million directions until you feel like you’ve lost your center, your essence, and your being? Everybody wants you to do something for them, and, of course, you want to help, and you want to be there for them, be their rock, a shoulder to cry on. You know you need to take care of yourself, but that takes a back seat.

The feeling of satisfaction you receive when you help someone is undeniable; when you are there for them, you feel needed. There’s a price to pay, of course.

This emotion or feeling of acknowledgment comes with that price. It’s like a double-edged sword. You keep giving and giving until you feel drained, emptied, and you can’t recognize yourself anymore.

You ask yourself, “How does doing so much good leave you feeling so empty?”

You beg your soul to feed on all the good it’s doing, but it continues to feel starved You can’t escape the cycle because you’re stuck on repeat, and no one seems to want to click on the next button anytime soon.

Here, we are going to help you learn how to take care of yourself and become the best possible version of you, so that you really can be there for those that need you when the time comes.

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What It Means to Take Care of Yourself

This is the million-dollar question, right? The answer to this question can either make or break you because the difference between self-care and being self-centered is thin. Taking the wrong step onto the wrong side could mean absolute self-destruction. So how do you find this balance? Does this mean making irrational decisions at work where you give up everything? No. Does this mean being so self-absorbed in your own needs that you begin to develop a blind spot to others? Definitely not.

Taking care of yourself is simply realizing that you’re also important. It means not to unnecessarily and constantly ignore your needs and the things that make you feel good. It can be best described as helping others by helping yourself first. It means prioritizing your happiness and fulfillment without infringing on others.

Let’s face it, we’ll always be needed by people around us—friends, families, and even coworkers—but most importantly, you’re also needed by you. Which would be your priority? Shouldn’t you extend the same kindness and consideration to yourself as you do to those around you? If you’re looking to live your best life, the answer should be a resounding yes.

Common Misconceptions Around Self-Care

Over the years, the idea of learning how to take care of yourself has moved through various misconceptions and myths. Fortunately, these are beginning to change as people realize just how important self-care really is. Here are some of the most common misconceptions that need to be busted.

Making Self-Care a Priority Is Selfish

This serves as one of the significant reasons for feeling guilty when we decide to put ourselves first. A kinder, more realistic way of looking at it would be to realize that taking care of yourself replenishes you and helps you take care of your loved ones better. You’ll practically be of no use if you’re constantly being depleted. Ask yourself if you’re really willing to sacrifice your joy and mental health.

People Always Need Your Help

There is a vast difference between being there when you’re needed and constantly hovering and waiting to magically fix everyone’s problem. As hard as it is to hear, you’re not the hero of the world. It is not your duty to save everyone. Not to mention that doing this would only rob the people around you of the ability to learn from their experiences. This inadvertently leads to a toxic relationship with constant dependence.

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Boundaries Will Push People Away

There is a law that states you attract what you display. If you present yourself as always available or a rescuer, you’ll attract people that need rescuing. If you don’t set boundaries on how you should be treated, you’ll be continuously probed and pushed until you’re practically living for others, and your life doesn’t seem to be yours anymore. People will always test your limits and sometimes take advantage of your seemingly good nature. For this reason, boundaries are necessary and, yes, healthy.

It’s Bad to Expect Something in Return

While you would like to believe your actions are totally selfless and you expect nothing in return, we often feel resentful when our actions aren’t reciprocated. It would seem easy to blame others, but you have to realize that to take care of yourself is your responsibility, and although some people might take advantage, you need to understand when to set the limit and keep some of that love for yourself.

Your Worth Is Based on Others’ Opinions

Primarily, it all boils down to placing your value on other people’s opinions or desires for you. It all centers on our self-esteem and the confidence to sometimes say no when the situation calls for it. Realize that if you’re loved, you will always be loved for who you are, not what you can provide or offer.

Why It’s Important to Take Care of Yourself

Are you still doubting that it’s important to take care of yourself? It’s time to put that guilt away, because the effects are magical, and the results are practically life-changing.

Improved Productivity

Self-care helps to bring into sharp focus the things that actually matter to you. Placing priorities enables you to focus and direct your energy toward what’s important to you.

Do you ever have those dreams of trips you always wanted to take, but you never seemed to find the time for it? Well, putting yourself first helps you cut down unnecessary laybacks that waylay any and all desires and goals.

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Improved Physical Health

In biology, there are two main types of reflex actions: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic reflex action. The sympathetic reflex action is our response to emergencies, also known as the fight or flight response. Research has shown that continually stressing over issues prompts the body to respond with sympathetic actions[1]. This reaction comes about by releasing certain hormones in the body like adrenalin, also known as epinephrine. These hormones in our bloodstream prepare the body by dilating blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and overall stressing your body and weakening the immune system.

On the other hand, taking a chill pill and relaxing prompts the opposite reaction, which is the parasympathetic reaction that leaves you relaxed, refreshed, and strong enough to resist diseases, improving the health of your immune systems[2].

Once you learn how to let go of other people’s problems, you’ll find you use your sympathetic actions a lot less often, which is great for both your physical and mental health.

Higher Self-Esteem

When you regularly carve out time to do what you want for yourself, it sends a positive message to your brain and releases endorphins that improve feelings of self-worth and confidence. Besides, it allows you to discover your values and realize your passion. It’s time to recollect your thoughts and discover yourself.

How to Take Care of Yourself

There are different methods of practicing self-care, and the trick is to find which you connect with and which seems to work best with your schedule. It also depends on the area of your life they need to be applied to.

1. Emotional Self-Care

This involves accurately projecting your emotions. When it comes to your emotional health, the best idea would be to lay out your feelings as they are and prevent unnecessary suppressing of emotions. You might feel tempted to bottle up the feelings, but the healthy option would involve accepting and dealing with these emotions. Remember that although you can’t control your emotions, you control how they affect you.

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Tips for Emotional Care
  • See a therapist. Although this is optional, it can be a great way to talk through your feelings and get clear on what you want and need.
  • Reminisce constantly on good memories, as this keeps you positive.
  • Keep a thought journal or diary.
  • Never be afraid to let it out and cry, and ask for help if you need it.
  • Music is famed to be the food of the soul, and research[3] has proven that singing along to your favorite song is bound to improve your mood drastically.

2. Physical Self-Care

The benefits of self-care aren’t just limited to our minds, but it extends to show results in our physical bodies. Self-care is definitely known to improve your physical health. Even the simple act of worrying less exponentially boosts your immune system.

Tips for Physical Care
  • Practice yoga to improve your mental state and enhance muscle tone and flexibility.
  • Learn a new sport to activate the release of endorphins.
  • Take a walk and connect with the scenery and atmosphere.
  • Eat healthy to balance your hormones and offer your body everything it needs to keep you energized.
  • Ensure you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep, as this improves brain function and productivity.

3. Miscellaneous Self-Care Techniques

Take time to connect with your friends occasionally, deeply. This promotes more satisfying and meaningful relationships, which improves your overall mood[4].

Never be scared to say no to an invitation you’re too exhausted to enjoy. If you need it, take some time for yourself and put in some solid “me” time.

Meditation always helps. It also highlights a list of things you’re grateful for as it helps keep things in perspective while helping you appreciate the good things your life has to offer.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to take care of yourself first might be the hardest decision you’ll ever make. However, in the long run, it will also be the best decision as it will allow you to finally become the best version of yourself and achieve all those goals you’ve been waiting to tackle. Get started on self-care today.

More Self-Care Tips

Featured photo credit: Jakob Owens via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jacqueline T. Hill

Writing, Blogging, and Educating To Guide Others Into Happiness

How To Make Yourself Happy Today And Every Day How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself And Get Back Up Why It Matters to Take Care of Yourself First (And How to Do It) How to Not Take Things Personally for a Happier Life Feeling Unappreciated? 7 Ways to End This Pain

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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