Making yourself the top priority is when you have a seemingly endless to-do list of family, work, and school obligations. Taking care of ourselves however, is a crucial part of living a full life. Life can often be overwhelming by what it throws at us. As a result it can be hard to be your authentic self when you’re struggling to process what’s going on around you. Doreen Mutesi, a procurement officer, believes that social interactions are crucial because they influence our daily lives. “It is no surprise that we are always seeking validation from the people around us. However, this sometimes comes with a price because most of the times, we forget about ourselves. We refuse to listen to what our body needs and many times, we don’t really know what we want,” she says. She adds that during stressful times, it’s important to take the time out for yourself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day to enjoy and be present in one singular moment. “Be it a trip to your favourite coffee shop or a walk in a park. Trust me, by allowing yourself this time to reconnect, you’ll become more resilient and enjoy a happier more fulfilling life.” Many people struggle to make time for themselves due to various commitments, Yvonne Uwamwezi, a businesswoman, says. Usually, however, they have plenty of time, they just weren’t managing their energy wisely. “When you treat yourself well, it will be projected on everything else in life, your partner, children, colleagues, relatives will be affected. Whether it is reading a book, treating yourself to spa, or trying that new yoga class, self-care will be worthwhile,” she says. “When you take the time to get to know yourself better, you’ll realise that you’re comfortable being the person you want to be, as opposed to the person everyone else, or even society, expects you to be. You need to listen to your body and understand who and what you want to be, then work towards that. “Spending more me time makes you more honest with yourself and it will develop your personality too as you’ll realise that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not,” she adds. For Kenneth Muhinda, an I.T specialist, says validation from other people is great. He warns, however, that there will come a time in life when that validation will be absent, an internal energy to move on to unusual circumstances. “It might seem like you don’t have enough hours in the day to get even half of your to-do list checked off. But you can only put off taking care of yourself for so long. “The analogy of filling your cup is a common one in self-care. If you don’t do things to fill yourself up spiritually, emotionally, physically you will end up, empty. The world needs the happy, fulfilled, best version of you, not the tired, burnout, resentful version. If you are at your best your family and the wider community benefit. This is why self-care is anything but selfish,” he says. David Rwigema, a general doctor, says we put ourselves under enormous pressure with stress, lack of sleep and less than perfect lifestyle choices. However, we ought to take seriously extra coffees and glasses of wine, because they affect our optimal health. “What might start as a concern, frequent colds, digestive issues or other minor ailments, will become louder and louder until we listen. Don’t let a major illness be what stops you and forces you to start taking care of yourself. Don’t use your ‘me’ time to fold laundry or catch up on email. It may even seem more stressful at first to leave things undone, but you’ll have more energy if you take a little time off,” he says. Important for relationships Relationships are never smooth sailing 100 per cent of the time, and while it is important to be able to have an open, clear conversation with your partner, there are times when a bit of space on your own allows you to gain greater clarity about a situation before having a discussion. “We are all guilty of reacting or saying hurtful things sometimes when we are acting from a place of self-preservation, or feel as though we are coming under attack. And it is in these moments that having some time to think, breathe and perhaps journal can be really beneficial,” Christelle Mutesi, a marketing officer, says. “In moments when you are angry at your partner it’s usually because you compared the present situation to past relationships or experiences that made you upset, rather than your partner themselves or their actions. “If you can take the time to sit with your emotions, becoming aware of the experiences that have shaped you, you are much more likely to be able to view the situation with a clear head and to move through the issue instead of fighting about it. Having time away from each other is a good way to reignite the spark that you had when you first began dating, and also tends to make us more present with each other the next time we meet,” she advises.