If you’re anything like me and you suffer from “too nice” syndrome, sooner or later you’re going to burn out. Work life balance is a term that has been getting thrown around a lot lately and when put in practice it looks different for everyone. Often the co-worker that always picks up the slack or finishes the teamwork by the deadline is stressed out. Their internal wiring looks more like a knotted pile of frayed cords. Being too nice, too generous or too kind can actually be harmful to your health and make others perceive you as a pushover.

The terrible scenario explained above can only end with the employee completely exhausted and looking for a way out, or becoming selfishly empowered. It starts with removing the guilt associated with the word no. When you are asked to work another double shift, or pick up the slack yet again, a simple “no” is the answer. Why should we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves? We shouldn’t!

Our mental health matters, it’s that simple. Stress is like a fresh snowfall, it starts light and you think it’s not so bad, after all you forgot how beautiful the snow looks on the treetops. A week passes and it’s still snowing, only now it’s heavier and you can’t step outside without your feet getting wet, despite the fact that your wearing the most expensive pair of boots you own. You now have to spend five minutes scraping off your car and trying not to get stuck pulling out of the driveway. You can’t remember the last time you actually enjoyed going outside and to top it all off you’ve put on some winter weight drinking hot chocolate to keep warm. When not managed stress adds up and can ultimately become overwhelming.

Being selfish is not the terrible sin we’ve grown up believing it to be. It is an essential part of self-care. Not to sound too cliché, but the old crashing airplane metaphor holds true. When a plane crashes you must put your breathing device on before helping the people beside you, if you don’t you’ll be of absolutely no help whatsoever. If you don’t first take care of yourself one beautifully selfish decision at a time, you will crash and burn and be left a stressed out mess eating cake on your kitchen floor at 2 a.m. because it’s the only time you have to yourself.

Canceling plans to just rest, saying no to taking on more than you can handle, removing negativity from your life and just reading a good book, are all examples of selfish self-care. Let’s finally remove the stigma surrounding the word selfish. Yes, we all know someone who takes it to the extreme, thinking only of themselves and just generally being a giant drag to be around. I’m strictly talking to the busy employee too nice to say no, the mother who’s putting everyone else first but herself and the stressed out partner who’s worried about the relationship more than what they want. I’m talking to the other sufferers of “too nice” syndrome and I’m saying it’s not only okay to be selfish, it’s downright necessary.

It all comes down to self worth, and let me tell you, you are absolutely worth it. I truly believe that the more we value ourselves the easier it gets to put our own well being first. Healing is not linear, there’s going to be some ups and downs and that’s okay. Self-love happens for people in so many different ways. Some start by saying “I love you” into the mirror, others start buying fresh raspberries at the grocery store as a simple treat, some just come to realize they too can be their own best friend. Start slowly, start small, buy a new candle and enjoy a bubble bath, schedule 2 hours just for you. Own the word selfish, taking it as your own and turning it’s physical counterpart into a vibrant indulgent afternoon of self-care that would make even the Greek gods jealous. You my friend are worth every minute.

Keep your raspberries fresh and your candles lit and remember, “no” is a complete sentence.