Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else, in order to say yes to yourself.
A great metaphor for self care and often used in psychology is taken from flight attendants. The airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs.This accurately expresses why it is important - if you can't take care of yourself for yourself, do it for others. Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it's easy to keep putting self-care off, until we get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don't have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That's when we realise we haven't been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent it is vital and practical.
Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can encourage yourself by saying "I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others" .
It also helps to remember that self-care doesn't have to be massively time-consuming. Self care means taking steps every day to support your health and wellness and have an understanding of your physical state and any ‘dis-ease’ that may be starting up. Being aware of when you are in balance and when you are out of balance. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, exercise whether that means gentle stretching or running and being in a gym. Meditate and learn to relax. Engage in a good, healthy diet and eat mindfully.
Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in spades for you and the ones you love.