It has gotten to the point where I have simply forgotten how to take care of myself. It’s funny, because this blog is all about empowering people to take part in self-care and self-love, yet I can’t even do it myself.

I suppose I’m learning alongside you.

Putting others first is something that I’ve been taught my entire life. I have volunteered alongside my family for as long as my conscious mind remembers, and I have continued to do so to this day. Now, although it is not the volunteer work that is depriving me of self-care time, it is the mindset that I have created because of it that is taking me two steps backwards.

I have recently found myself feeling immensely guilty whenever I have to say no to someone, or have to cancel plans. Even if I have a legitimate reason as to why I cannot meet up, there’s always still a small feeling of guilt stuck in the pit of my stomach.

Because of this, I then give myself unneeded, extra stress by trying to squeeze in a rescheduled get-together, even if it happens to be at the most inconvenient time (which it almost always is). Rescheduling instead of rejecting does give me a short-lived sense of ease, since everyone is content for the time being, until I realize that I physically have no time left for myself.

Regardless, this has been the sacrifice that I’ve been willing to make lately.

However, it should not have to be this way; I should not feel compelled to say yes every time someone asks me to do something. (And, let me clarify, it is never the other making me feel guilty– this is entirely a self-guilt type of thing.)

We as human beings need to allow ourselves time to rest both our physical bodies and our minds. We cannot constantly be “on” all of the time, rushing here and there and keeping busy 24/7. This, my friends, is what causes over-exhaustion and mental breakdowns.

Thus, we all (including myself) need to realize that it’s perfectly okay to say no sometimes, or to even cancel plans last-minute if we aren’t in the right mindset. This doesn’t mean we’re being flaky or selfish, it means we’re properly taking care of ourselves and avoiding an explosion.

There’s a reason that the hashtag #selfcareisntselfish is trending; it is currently creating a way of thinking that is vital to our mental well-being. We should never feel guilty about taking space or time to ourselves. Just think about it, if you drive your car around nonstop for hours or days on end, eventually you’re going to end up on the side of the road, completely out of gas and nowhere near a station.

So, listen to yourself. If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, tired, anxious, sad, sick, or any other not-so-great way, take a breather! Your mental health comes before homework, schoolwork, friendships, relationships, and all other responsibilities. This is simply because an unhealthy head cannot do an effective job at school or at work. And, an overwhelmed mind will become a completely drained one if it continues to put loved ones strictly before itself.

Self-care isn’t selfish. I will admit, I truly do struggle with this self-guilt thing myself, but making some of these subtle changes in my life has already lessened a bit of the weight.

Saying no to someone may be incredibly difficult at first, but when your mental state begins to benefit from it, I can promise you, you’ll be oh-so glad you did.