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It’s okay to put yourself first

This is your reminder that it’s not selfish to take time to prioritize yourself or your mental health

<p>By giving yourself grace and time to take care of yourself, you can work to refill your cup to get back to capacity. &nbsp;</p>

By giving yourself grace and time to take care of yourself, you can work to refill your cup to get back to capacity.  

The last few weeks of my life have felt like utter chaos — and not the good kind. In fact, the whole month of April just felt chaotic. There’s something about April that just makes it feel like a bit of a hell month. With it being at the end of the semester, it feels as if every possible assignment is due or exams fall back-to-back right before finals. All of this also seems to happen when the weather finally gets nicer and all you want to do is soak in the sun with your friends. 

All of this chaos put me in a bit of a bad place recently. The stress of school along with that from my personal life really took a toll on me at the time. It took me longer to realize how bad I was really doing than I’d like to admit. However, looking back on my lack of sleep and my poor eating habits at the time, it was rather obvious that I wasn’t doing too well. 

While going through this, I felt as though I still had to do all of the things I was doing before and do them as well as I had been. I was essentially trying to operate at full capacity when my capacity was low or even at empty — that’s not okay. 

I wish I had understood this earlier and that’s why I am writing this. I want to remind you that it is okay to put yourself first — it is actually more than okay to do so. I think that is something that I personally feel guilty about too often and I want to debunk that thought for myself as well as all of you. 

Putting yourself first can easily be thought of as being selfish, but it is actually quite the opposite. By taking care of your own needs first, you are only then able to take care of others. You are only able to give selflessly and genuinely when your own needs are taken care of.

It’s like that one saying — you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. As a nursing student, this is something that my professors say to us often and until recently, I only thought of it in relation to nursing. Now, I strongly believe that it is something that we should all live by in all aspects of our life! 

On a similar note, you can’t keep doing things on an empty cup. This analogy essentially means that if you don’t have capacity within you, you simply cannot give or do. If you are feeling any level of exhaustion, you are not able to focus on or be genuinely present in the things going on in your life. That leads to completing things half-heartedly and that ultimately will only make you feel worse. By giving yourself grace and time to take care of yourself, you can work to refill your cup to get back to capacity. 

This past week I recognized the importance of this and made sure to do what I needed to in order to take care of myself. It was hard to not feel selfish at first because I felt like I had obligations and responsibilities that I was turning away from. However, the people in my life were more than understanding that I needed to take a step back for my mental health — in fact, they were proud of me for recognizing this. This made me feel good and it was further reassurance in my newfound mindset of how it is okay to put myself first when I need to.

With that being said, this is your reminder that it is more than okay to put yourself first. If you are feeling that end of the semester burnout or just feel like you need to focus on yourself, I hope this reminds you to take the time you need! Whether that means stepping back from some of your commitments for a little while or asking for extensions, it is okay to do so! The active decision to prioritize yourself as well as your mental health is anything but selfish. 

Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at 


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