Days go by fast. In between all the regular stuff – work, exercise, cooking, cleaning, and then throw in a few kids – it’s hard to find even a few minutes of “me-time”.
At the end of the day, when living a busy lifestyle, the last person to get adequate care is usually you. As a mother, father, or even just from working an intense job, you sacrifice a lot to keep things going. And as a result, you rarely get a moment to just be you.
So what is “me-time” and why is it so important?
By definition: “me-time” (noun) is time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress and restore energy (Oxford Dictionary).
Simple, right? So why do we forgo our “me-time” to meet the needs of others?
Typically those with a caregiving nature spend less time alone recharging their batteries. But a little “me-time” each day will make you better at what you do, whether that’s parenting, running a business, completing a project or looking after someone who is ill.
How do I know if I need more “me-time”?
The symptoms of stress are a pretty clear indicator that you may be spending too much time on everyone else or in a work project than on you. Low energy, headaches, aches and pains, an upset stomach or insomnia are all signs you need to bring it back to what matters most: your health.
On average, you should be scheduling in at least an hour a day to be alone and focus on re-energising. This is outside a coffee date with a friend, wine in the evenings, and group fitness sessions. Whilst these activities are perfect for self-care, they don’t necessarily take you away from the needs or concerns of others.
“Me-time” is time solely dedicated to solitude. Put down your smartphone or iPad, and turn inward. Self-reflection and self-discipline are key to achieving the best results from “me-time” (remember, reduced stress and restored energy?).
What can I do during my “me-time”?
Here’s a few ideas to get the ball rolling (so you won’t end up bored and searching for your phone or someone to talk to):
Read a book
The most obvious way to spend “me-time”, but often the most overlooked when we live a busy lifestyle. Many of us stack books on our bedside table that we rarely read. As soon as you rise or just before bed, be alone with a good book and a cup of tea.
Soak your hands and feet with essential oils
There’s so many ways to use essential oils, especially as a calming, solo stress relief. Boil water and pour into a bucket big enough for your feet. When the water is warm (and no longer boiling hot), place your feet in the bucket with a few drops of lavender essential oil and remove when the water is completely cool. Repeat for your hands.
Start a journal
It’s cathartic and creative. Plus, it’s one of those self-care activities that requires you to be alone. Read our article on the health benefits of journaling.
With only so many hours in one day, how can I find enough time for me?
Be ruthless in your pursuit of “me-time”. Just like you would turn up to a meeting or your child’s soccer game on time, schedule a time each day for you; a time your family and friends know not to disturb you.
Often, it’s easier said than done. You can say you’ll find time for you, but life gets in the way. Try one, or all, of these tips for finding enough “me-time”:
Outsource what needs to be done
If it feels like you can’t give any time back to you in a normal day, give some of that workload to someone else. A small financial investment could be the perfect investment in you. Post an ad on Airtasker for help with the gardening, moving furniture, taking old bags of clothes to a charity bin, or cleaning the house every fortnight.
Say “no” more often
To the demands of your family. To one too many nights out with friends. To picking up someone else’s kids from school. To your boss, asking you to stay back. Make you a priority and say “no”
The only way you’re going to actually find time for “me-time” is to make it part of your routine, and then, stick to it. After a few weeks, it will become second nature and you won’t be able to get through the day without your sanctioned alone time.
For parents, it can be hard to justify that time away from your kids. An hour each day, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing in replace of a happier, healthier and more vibrant you. So, take the time now to figure out where “me-time” fits into your everyday. You won’t regret it.