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7 Things It's OK to Be Selfish About

Every time you travel by plane, you're encouraged to be "selfish". Think about it: A flight attendant demonstrates instructs you to, in the case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping children or other passengers. Hooking yourself up to life-giving oxygen may seem selfish... until you realize that you’re more equipped to support and help those around you. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so selfish any more. Suddenly it's clear just how important it is to prioritize yourself. You’re a better person for it.

Yes, putting on your mask first is critical before helping others is the biggest cliche ever, but what can we learn from this situation? Self-care is crucial, but we don't always make it a priority. Here are seven things it’s totally OK to be selfish about.

1. Your Schedule

If you haven’t learned to say “no” sometimes, you need to get on that yesterday. Your time is rationed in very precise, nonnegotiable quantities. You only get 24 hours in a single day. Your 24 aren’t less important than anyone else’s. Guard that weekly yoga class and don’t let anything take its place. Block off an hour as unavailable on your work calendar every day and don’t schedule on top of it. Say no to adding one more thing to your plate in the way of volunteer hours and committee chairs. If you fill up all of your hours with the things everyone else needs, it doesn’t leave any time for what you need.

Listen now: How to Calm Down in Under 3 Minutes

2. Your Pleasure

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It takes two to tango, and both dancers deserve their moment in the spotlight! Only 25 percent of women consistently reach orgasm during intercourse, and only half reach orgasm sometimes. But sex void of orgasm is like baking a decadent chocolate cake, and then throwing it into the garbage. Have a voice and be selfish in bed! If there’s another way that’s going to get you to that tango spotlight, ask for it. Don’t let your partner out of bed until you’ve gotten yours too. You deserve your own skyrockets-in-flight moment, and you deserve a partner willing to do his or her part to get you there.

Read more: Get a Bigger Orgasm With 8 Easy Yoga Moves

3. Your Sick Days

If your life suddenly looks like a pathetic cough syrup commercial, it’s time to call in a sick day. If there’s ever a time to tell your boss, spouse, kids and carpool crew that today isn’t the day, it’s when you’re coughing, aching, sneezing and wishing your head would just go ahead and explode. If it’s selfish to lie in bed for a day or two and give your body the rest and sleep it needs, then wear that badge loud and proud. Sometimes you get sick because someone didn’t wash their hands, and sometimes you get sick because your body is crying out for a break. If people swapped the phrase “sick day” for “self-care day” in our contracts, maybe they’d need fewer literal sick days.

Read more: 12 Not-So-Common Tips to Fend Off Cold and Flu

4. Your Postpartum Recovery

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You just grew a tiny human inside you and brought her into the world. No one else suffered through morning sickness. No one else went through the excruciating hours to bring that baby to its first breath. You did that, Mama! And you get to be 10 kinds of selfish for a while. If you want people to come to you as opposed to going to them — fine! If you want to hold the baby and not share her — fine! You don’t owe anyone anything right now. It’s some of the most sacred time you’ll ever experience, and it wholly belongs to you.

5. Your Food

Ever make a beautiful stack of pancakes that your family swooned over? Eventually, you got to sit down to eat the cold few left on the serving plate? Next time, make yourself a fat stack of steamy pancakes and eat them right there in front of everyone else while you make theirs. It’s no small task to prepare a meal for two or 10, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it at its best. You know which piece of chicken or which baked potato or which slice of cake came out best, so grab it! There’s nothing wrong with saving the best for yourself sometimes. If you don’t, who will?

6. Your Social Media Presence

You don’t owe anyone any explanations if you decide to go off the grid, unplug and take a Facebook break. It can be a serious sanity saver. You don’t owe anyone those likes and bubbly hearts. People had babies, job promotions and commuter rants long before they had a platform to blast them out to the masses, and they’ll continue to do it if you take a weeklong hiatus from the social media hub. Use that time to clear your head and connect with people in real life. If that’s selfish, folks need to update their dictionaries.

Read more: How to Do a Social Media Detox and Still Have Friends

7. Your Work Boundaries

It really is OK to leave your job and leave work there. Some 80 percent of Americans continue to work after they’ve left the office, adding up to an extra day of work each week (that’s four extra days per month). There are only so many hours in the day, and you owe some of those to yourself, your family, your dog, your hobbies, your latest Netflix addiction.

The work-life balance in the U.S. is further off-kilter than any other developed nation in the world. Coincidentally (but probably not), when you look at happiness quotients for other countries, we come in far behind those that are leaving work at work. Those emails will still be there tomorrow.

Read more: 15 Secrets to a Better Work-Life Balance

What Do YOU Think?

Are you taking time for yourself? Is there anything on this list that you’ve been compromising on or sacrificing for the people around you? Which one(s) of these do you need to reclaim? Is there anything else you’re selfish about? Share your thoughts and comments below!