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Putting yourself first is not indulgent – it’s absolutely essential.

But what does it really mean to make yourself a priority?

Basically, it’s about carving out time to recharge your mind, body and spirit. It’s tuning into what YOU need and making space for that.

Setting healthy boundaries around your time and energy. Saying no to things that wipe you out. Making time for activities that make you feel happy deep in your soul.

It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. It means penciling in “me-time” on your calendar as faithfully as you would for anyone else.

If you’re ready to take time to simply breathe, play, and be fully present, read on for practical ways to start making yourself a priority (even with a busy schedule).

How To Make Yourself A Priority

Get clear on your authentic codes

Figuring out your priorities starts with understanding your authentic codes.

Your authentic codes are like your inner compass – it points to your deepest values, passions. Basically the true you.

To tune into your authentic codes, ask yourself open, reflective questions.

What activities totally absorb you, making you lose all track of time? When do you feel free and fully alive? What tugs at your heart and brings up surges of emotion?

Think back on moments when you felt most fully yourself. Were there common themes around certain strengths, interests, or callings that lit you up?

Also pay close attention to what gives you energy versus what leaves you drained.

What routines make you feel your best?

How do you need to spend your evenings and weekends in order to show up as your best self on Monday morning?

Listen to those cues.

Your authentic codes reveals your true priorities and needs.

As you understand it more deeply through self-reflection, you can make self-care choices aligned with your real self.

It’s like getting to know yourself on a soul level.

Make a list of your non-negotiables both in work and life.

Once you understand exactly what you need to be at your best, you can start to prioritise that.

A gratitude journal, like this beautifully designed one, can help with self reflection and getting clear on the things that spark joy for you.

Image: Deposit Photos

Give Yourself Permission To Prioritise You

It’s so easy to feel guilty about self-care, like you’re being lazy or selfish if you take time just for you.

But here’s the truth: you can’t properly care for others without filling up your own cup first!

When you make time for activities that recharge your mind, body and spirit, you operate from a fuller, more energised place.

Remind yourself that self-care comes from self-love, not selfishness. It means embracing your humanity and honouring your whole self.

It can be hard to let go of perfectionist tendencies and the habit of pleasing everyone all the time. This stuff takes practice!

Be patient, reduce the negative self talk and speak kind mantras to yourself.

When that critical inner voice pops up, correct it. Make space for self-reflection to understand what you truly need.

Do this mental work, and gradually it’ll get easier to make yourself a priority without guilt.

Speak up about what you need and set boundaries

Speaking up can be hard, especially for people-pleasers. Saying “no” may feel selfish or make you worried about disappointing others.

Start small – say no to just one less important thing, like a meeting you can easily skip. Build up your confidence from there.

Remember that “no” is a complete sentence! You don’t owe long explanations or excuses. Keep it simple and polite. For example, “I can’t make it this time, but thanks for thinking of me!”

Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t. “I’m not available then, but could we meet Tuesday instead?”

If someone pressures you after you’ve set a clear boundary, calmly repeat yourself. “Like I said, I can’t make it work.” Don’t get sucked into guilt trips.

Try not to take reactions personally. Other people’s disappointment is about their own expectations, not you.

Books like Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud provide frameworks on communicating your needs while keeping your relationships intact.

Image: Deposit Photos

Plan self-care like any other appointment

Block off set times for self-care in your calendar and treat those slots just like any other important appointment.

Seriously, get out your planner and schedule in some “me-time.”

Map out when you’ll exercise, meditate, make healthy meals, or do fun activities – whatever energises you. Like, actually write it into your calendar.

You’ve got to carve out space for yourself first before booking anything else. Protect your self-care blocks.

Setting personal appointments makes sure you follow through. Otherwise, it’s way too easy to keep bumping yourself off the list when something “more urgent” pops up.

Start with small, reasonable slots that work for you. Consistency matters more than quantity. Over time, you can expand as self-care becomes more natural.

Check in with yourself daily

It can be tempting to make yourself a priority only when you reach a breaking point of stress or exhaustion and feel completely out of alignment.

But the key is keeping self-care consistent before you burn out.

Like any habit, putting yourself first has to become a regular practice.

Maybe you devote 10 minutes each morning to quiet meditation or make it a rule to always take a mid-day sanity break.

Don’t wait until you’re depleted to replenish.

Check in regularly – how is your energy level on a scale of 1 to 10? What’s something simple that could give you an energizing boost today? Meet that need.

With daily check ins, you prevent bigger breakdowns. Think of it like getting regular oil changes for your car versus waiting until the engine gives out.

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