Do you constantly sacrifice your emotional, physical, mental, and financial needs for your family or friends? Are you stretching yourself beyond your capacity? These signs might signal you to dial back how much you’re doing for others and focus on what you need to do for yourself. Putting yourself first in a society that glorifies work accomplishments and grind culture can be difficult, but it’s necessary for your mental and emotional well-being. As we’ve heard this popular phrase before, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is turning out to be accurate, as more Americans are suffering from chronic stress. According to 2022 data from the American Psychological Association, around seven in 10 adults (72%) have experienced additional health impacts due to stress, including feeling overwhelmed (33%), experiencing changes in sleeping habits (32%), and constantly worrying (30%). Despite experiencing chronic stress and burnout, it still can be challenging to carve out time for yourself not to be productive and just rest, as there’s still a stigma that treating yourself is seen as indulgent and self-serving, as well as a waste of time.
People may have difficulty putting themselves because they are worried about being judged or seen as “selfish.” In our community, Black women are held on a pedestal for being perceived as giving to a fault, self-sacrificing, and giving despite making sacrifices that leave them feeling stressed, burned out, and unappreciated. However, many Black women are opting to include more moments for themselves in their daily lives, inspired by social media movements like #softlife and #softgirlera, which aim to break harmful “Strong Black Women” tropes that are rooted around working past capacity, not resting, or feeling human emotions — which is revolutionary in a world that’s consumed with hustle culture and constant productivity, at the expensive of your health. So how can we still be “that girl” and ensure we’re good emotionally? Here’s our guide to filling your cup first without feeling guilty.
Set your non-negotiables:
Figure out what you need to do for yourself each day. Ask yourself, “What minimum non-negotiables must happen daily to start on the right foot?”
Some of my non-negotiables are:
- Take a shower every single day.
- Eat breakfast.
- Make my bed before work.
- Spending uninterrupted time without my phone.
Set boundaries and limit people’s pleasing: Personal boundaries can help you protect your time and energy, giving you more fuel to work on your inner self.
Name and sit with your guilt: When you put your needs first, guilt can surface. It’s normal to feel guilty when you cannot accommodate others’ needs and emotions. It’s OK to say to others.
Find a hobby (that you don’t get paid for): Finding a non-monetized hobby can help you become grounded in your passions and joy. By discovering an activity you enjoy without the pressure of making money, you can put yourself and your happiness first and escape from the world, even for 30 minutes or an hour.
Release other’s expectations of you: Spend some time thinking about what’s important to you. Start by listing your values and goals and not worrying about what others think of you and how you live.
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