If you’re someone who tends to focus on others, that’s a wonderful quality — we need more kindness and altruism in this world. But learning to focus on yourself, and not others, is important, too. And it can do a lot for your general happiness. As the saying goes, you should always secure your own oxygen mask first.
If the idea of focusing on yourself makes you uncomfortable, remember this: Self-care, and taking the time to look out for yourself and your own mental and emotional wellbeing, is actually crucial to maintaining healthy relationships and giving more to others in the long-run. It can also help eliminate negative thoughts and feelings and make you a better person, and one who feels happier and has an improved sense of wellbeing. By focusing on yourself, you’ll avoid burnout and be able to give even more.
Ready to get started? Here are eight simple, effective ways to start focusing on yourself—because you deserve all the self-compassion and self-respect in the world.
1. Do something you’ve always wanted to do
You know those items that have been lingering on your to-do list forever, even if that to-do list only exists in your head? Think “run a half marathon,” “see a therapist,” “travel the world,” the list goes on. Now is the time to pick one thing you've always wanted to do and actually do it. No matter how big or small, actually setting aside the time and energy to invest in something you've always thought about doing will be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.
2. Take stock of your free time, then figure out how you can spend it better
In our go-go-go culture, our free time feels precious and rare. But when you do have free time, how do you spend it? Take some time to really examine each and every moment that you have to yourself. You may spend a lot more time mindlessly scrolling than you think, or cleaning up after your kids or other members of your household when you could be focusing on you. Once you’ve examined exactly how you’re spending your free time, make a list of ways you’d like to use it instead — and do it.
Journaling is one of the absolute best ways to take care of yourself. It’s packed with physical and mental health benefits, from improving your immune system to reducing anxiety. Whether you take a few minutes to journal in the morning or do it at night, the process of writing can help you process your feelings, better understand your goals, release stress, and so much more.
4. Take yourself out on a date
What does your absolute perfect day or evening look like? Write it out, and then find a time when you can make that day or night happen. If you’re someone who tends to focus more on others, you’re probably used to always taking other people’s wants and needs into consideration before your own. It will be incredibly invigorating and restorative to have a day that’s all about you, and jam-packed with activities you truly enjoy.
A solo date spent hiking
5. Take a social media break
While there’s certainly some good to be found on social media, many people fall into the "comparison trap" when they're scrolling. Comparison robs us of joy and stops us from focusing on ourselves, and not in a good way. So if you really want to focus on yourself, take a social media break. Delete apps from your phone or block them from your browser. You may be surprised by how much better you feel.
6. Practice gratitude
A regular gratitude practice is great for your brain. So when you’re working to focus on yourself, making a list of things you’re grateful for is an excellent starting point. You can either list things you’re grateful for in a journal, or even say them out loud to someone you trust.
7. Move your body
We often think of exercise as something we do to lose weight, but moving your body has so many more benefits than that. Exercise is an excellent way to take care of your physical health and your mental health, and an important act of self-care. So if you’re looking to focus less on others and more on yourself, start by moving your body in a way that feels good to you: A walk, a run, a yoga class, dance cardio, the list goes on. Few things in life are better than an endorphin rush.
8. Make a self-care list and draw from it as often as possible
Self-care looks different for everyone—it isn’t all bubble baths, good books and glasses of red wine. For some people self-care is exercise, for others it’s binge-watching a TV show, for still others it’s reading learning to play an instrument or spending an afternoon knitting Make a list of what the word “self-care” means to you, and perform those acts as often as possible, whether that's once a week or once a month.
With enough time and effort, you can get better at focusing on yourself — and then you’ll be even better at taking care of others. Sounds like a pretty great deal, right?
9. Make sure you're always working toward something that's just for you
Working toward something is a really lovely way to focus on yourself that we don't often think about. For example, maybe you're saving as much money as possible because you want to travel around the world—that's a great way to focus on yourself! Or, maybe you want to consider going back to school to pursue a career you've always wanted. No matter what you choose, working toward something that's important to you is a great way to focus on yourself.
10. Do your best to cut out the negative self-talk
Easier said than done, we know. But when you're always talking to yourself in a negative way, it makes you less invested in your wellbeing, which causes you to focus more on others. If you can start talking to yourself like you would a close friend instead, you may find that it's easier to focus on yourself—and give yourself the big hug you deserve.
What do you do when you're working to focus on yourself? Let us know in the comment. And while you're at it, read up on everything you need to know about manifestation and intention-setting.