Putting people first. Being selfless. It’s all something we aspire to do. It’s something we aspire to be.
I don’t want to generalise but the community of those who are experiencing or have experienced mental health issues seem to all have the same thing in common. Helping others. So much to the point that they neglect their own self-care. Others happiness is put before their own happiness.
I am one of these people. You probably are too. But now, I see things in a different light since seeing myself breakdown and witnessing myself lose interest in my own self-care.
There’s nothing wrong with being selfless. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying.
But there is a difference between helping others and helping others to the point that you do not help yourself.
I met a woman at work who was stressed with her job. She has anxiety, depression and is on anti-depressants. She explained to me that she feels the need to help others, and not herself.
She feels guilty if she has ‘me-time’.
At first I thought “Wow. This lady is me”.
I explained to her how similar of a situation I was in. As I was giving her advice, I realised why do I not follow my own advice?
I advised her to carry on helping others if it made her happy, but for every two or three things she does for someone, take some time for herself.
The problem is not helping others, it’s the guilt we feel when we do something nice for ourselves. We are programmed as humans to feel bad when we treat ourselves.
This is how the cycle starts. We feel like we are restricted to being all work and no play. How can we help this?
- Help others whilst helping yourself.
It may be that a friend is in aid of some cheering up but you’ve already had a really stressful day and just want to relax. So, relax with them. Watch a film, go for dinner, paint your nails, go to the gym. Do something that will not only cheer them up, but will also contribute to helping yourself and your mentality.
- Work hard, play hard
We hate having time to ourselves because we always feel like there’s some job that we should be doing. Work hard, get your jobs done in the day and leave the evening to relax. Earn your time. If you cannot sit there without thinking of something you should be doing, then treat it as a transaction. You’ve given your time in the day to be productive, your reward is relaxing.
- Say No
This will be hard for some people. It is probably one of the hardest things for us to do. When we are overworked, stressed, or tired, we still feel like we have to keep going. Someone asks us to do something and we feel like we have to do it because we owe them as their friend. Sometimes this may be the case, and we want to help them, we may get a reward of feeling good after we have helped them. But when we just want to be by ourselves, this just feels impossible. Know that it is okay to say no when you don’t feel up to something. Just like you want to be a good friend to someone, if they are truly a good friend to you, they will understand if you are burned out and just not up to doing anything other than getting in bed with your favourite TV show. You need to remember that your mental health is just as important as others. We need to break this obsession with not allowing ourselves time to relax.
Never feel bad for putting yourself first.
Work hard, play hard, and love your life.