Learning to put yourself and your health first

Over-committing, saying yes because we want to please others, juggling work with social and family commitments, running ourselves down to empty to complete all the tasks we took on — does this sound familiar?

And once we do have a minute for ourselves, exercise and healthy meal preparation doesn’t sound like the most appealing way to unwind, and spend these precious moments of downtime.

It’s far too common that our own personal health falls to the bottom of the priority ladder. But, as one of our favourite sayings goes — ‘We can’t fill up anyone else’s cup with an empty water jug’ — our ability to perform at our optimum, and continue to help and give to others, must start with a solid a foundation. That foundation is our own personal health, both physically and mentally.

This programme is all about Self-Investment — about nourishing ourselves with nutrient rich food, putting our exercise goals higher on the priority ladder, allowing ourselves to enjoy more downtime for mental and emotional recovery from our busy lives, about setting up healthy habits for long term vitality and health.

Simply saying ‘no’ to friends, family and colleagues can be one of the hardest tasks. We all strive to be helpful, it’s human nature to lend a hand to those in need. But it’s agreeing to take on more than we’re physically and emotionally capable of that’s much harder to deal with and bounce back from. What if we’re the ones who need the help at the end of it all?

Learning to put ourselves first isn’t instinctual, it’s ingrained into us from a young age to share, to help others and to let someone else go first. But our challenge over this 12 week journey is to put our health first.

This might look like:

Keeping Sunday afternoon or early evening free to set ourselves up for a week of nutritious eating

  • prepping snacks for the busy week ahead (boiling some eggs, chopping some veggie sticks)
  • roasting off some veggies or cooking up some whole grains for lunches across the week
  • taking time to map out the week ahead (what days need packed lunches, what days have a lunch meeting out and about)

Scheduling in exercise

  • Pop your plan for exercise for the week into your diary, even block out 30 minutes to an hour in your calendar to ensure the time isn’t over-committed
  • Set an alarm to wake 30 minutes earlier than normal, and catch the first of those summer sun rays with a brisk jog, or some home exercises on the back lawn
  • Make your regular catch ups with your friends, your partner or children, a walk, bike ride or game of tennis.

Giving ourselves a chance to catch our breath during the day

  • Not rushing to answer emails or text messages as soon as they come in, being at peace with responding to others when you’re ready, once you’ve had a moment to relax and digest the information
  • Taking time to get up from our desks for a leg stretch or some fresh air, a cup of tea or a lunch break outside
  • Turning down some social occasions to catch up on rest when it’s needed, be it physical or emotional rest

Scheduling in ‘me time’

  • Allocate time in the evening to read a book, practice yoga, or do a crossword puzzle
  • Enjoy an extra hour of sleep by heading to bed earlier, the hours before midnight are the golden hours for recovery and deep sleep
  • Take on a hobby you’ve been interested in, maybe outside of the house — a knitting class, a book club or meditation class

Now’s the time to realign our goals, and the actions we’re going to put in place to get you to those goals. But we must remember to keep the newly established control we have on our priorities and our well-being, ensuring our actions have the time and space, the priority, to function for our benefit.

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