Put Yourself First

accountability health and wellness mental health mindfulness personal development professional development Jun 06, 2022

Putting yourself first is a simple concept, but it’s easier said than done. You’ve heard the flight attendants during the security briefing say, “Be sure to put your own oxygen mask on before you help those around you.” While it’s an extreme example, it’s a good reminder to check in with yourself to ensure you are putting yourself first. 

With so many competing priorities, it can be impossible to find time to fit everything in the day, much less carve out time just for you. But you have to. Just like on that airplane, at a certain point, you will run out of what you need to keep going. You must take care of yourself to be able to continue to help others. 

As an athlete, it can be hard to prioritize yourself. You’ve been taught to do what’s best for the team, or do what’s best for your stat line, or what’s best for the organization, or the tour, whatever it is. Your job is to support everyone else. But if you really think about it, how do you support your team best? 

You are the most supportive teammate, contributor and play maker when you have had the time to get a good night’s sleep, eat right, get your extra reps in and meet your training goals during the week. Those are all things you are prioritizing for YOU in your week. 

When it comes to mental health, self care, and your overall well being, you should prioritize it the same way. Take that night off to recharge and be ready to tackle tomorrow’s big to-dos. 

Don’t wait until your body or your mind is telling you they are out of gas. If you find yourself always extending a hand to help someone else, tell yourself that you can help them so much more if you get the rest and care YOU need. 

Here are some suggested responses you can give to others who may want support from you that you aren’t able to give.

“I’m sorry but I am not going to have the time to support this. I appreciate you thinking of me.”

“Thanks for reaching out about this. I wish I could help, but at this point I won’t be able to commit the time I’d need to execute this.”  

“Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’d love to help, but I won’t have the opportunity until XXX DATE. Does that work for you?”

“Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’d love to help, but I won’t have the time. Perhaps NAME could support this?” 

And here are some suggested questions you can ask others if you need support from them.

“I have this report almost finished, but I’m terrible at this program. I know you use it all the time, so can I show you what I’ve got and you can let me know what I could do better?”

"Can you help me? I have to finish this project by the end of the week and I have no idea how to make that happen."

“You are such an incredible designer - would you have any time to help me create a design for my friend’s party?” 

Remember, to put yourself first, you have to sacrifice other things. You may have to tell people no when they ask you for help. Or, you may have to ask others to help YOU. Take some time today to think about how you can prioritize you and your well being. Can you delegate something to a friend or coworker? Should you tell someone no? Can you carve out an hour on your calendar to do something you’ll enjoy?

Be sure to check in with yourself regularly. You don’t want to run out of oxygen while you’re out there helping others. 

Want more resources and news around life after sports? Be sure to subscribe to the TWN Weekly Newsletter and get the latest news around life after the game sent straight to your inbox. Subscribe here.