The phrase “self-care isn’t selfish” has been making the rounds on social media. And although this is very true, it can feel easier said than done.

In a recent survey, 40% of Shine members said they don’t practice self-care as much as they’d like because they prioritize the needs of others before their own.

Despite the benefits of helping those around you, ignoring the need to care for yourself can begin to take a mental and physical toll. As the old saying goes: You can't pour from an empty cup.

“Only you know when your cup is empty and it’s your job to keep it full,” Nedra Tawwab, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., tells Shine. “Prioritizing yourself is essential for your happiness. You will find yourself resentful and miserable when you prioritize others over yourself repeatedly.”

“Prioritizing yourself is essential for your happiness. You will find yourself resentful and miserable when you prioritize others over yourself repeatedly.”
- Nedra Tawwab
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We all have our own specific reasons for why putting ourselves first can be difficult, and according to Tawwab there are a few common ones:

We feel guilty for prioritizing ourselves because we believe it’s selfish.

Selfless people are praised within our society, and we often feel that by giving to others constantly we’ll be better liked or accepted.

It’s hard to prioritize yourself with guilt lingering in your head.

That guilty voice in our heads is always the loudest, and if it’s continuously pushing us to put others first, it can be difficult to overcome.

There is very little social support for you prioritizing yourself.

"Even when we try to prioritize ourselves, other people say things like, 'What will your kids do, while you’re…' 'Do you have enough time for…' 'That seems like a really big undertaking, will it be okay with your partner?'” Tawwab says.

These phrases highlight all the reasons not to prioritize yourself, making it a blocker to self-care. "Input from others gets in the way of us prioritizing ourselves," she says.

So, what’s the solution? Prioritizing yourself and your wellbeing doesn’t mean disregarding those around you, and it doesn’t always have to be a drastic change.

“Getting started could look like you identifying what things would make you happy,” says Tawwab. “Know that by prioritizing yourself, people will get a happier version of you.

'Know that by prioritizing yourself, people will get a happier version of you.'
- Nedra Tawwab
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To help you shake off some of the self-care guilt:

Try reciting empowering mantras to remind you why you deserve to practice self-care.

Research shows that when we recite quick uplifting mantras or affirmations we feel better and develop a stronger sense of self-worth. This boost of self-worth can help you feel more compelled to take care of your own needs.

We’ve compiled a few that you can print out, write down, or keep in mind the next time you get a little weary about putting yourself first:

1. “I deserve joy.”

2. “I am important.”

3. “When I pour into myself, I can shine my light onto others.”

4. “I am worthy of all the things that bring me happiness.”

5. “I can make time to nourish my mind, body, and spirit.”

6. “I am doing my best.”

Remember, you are your most valuable asset.

You deserve to prioritize yourself, and it's OK if it takes a little time and practice to believe that.


Read next: You Are Your Most Important Relationship

You're more than your stress and anxiety. Take back control using Shine's award-winning self-care program.

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