I know it sometimes seems impossible, but we all need ‘me time’; not only to maintain good mental health, but also to help to achieve goals we may have.
I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s, author of The Artist’s Way. According to Julia, we draw creativity and inspiration from our inner well (and this can take many forms – you don’t need to be a writer or an artist as we are all creative in different ways).
Think of the times when you’ve tried to lose weight and you’ve started doing really well at the beginning of the week; you exercise, you buy in all the healthy food and you ban the junk. But, then, by the end of the week – under the strain of all the demands on your plate – you find yourself going off track? I’d argue that this wouldn’t happen if you carved out some little ‘pockets’ of time for yourself. It will recharge your energies and you’ll be able to prioritize the important goals again.
The Depletion of Self
Most of us have experienced what it’s like when we don’t give attention to the upkeep of our well; we become depleted and stagnant. With work demands, family, household chores and homework, there sometimes barely seems time to do the basics, never mind fit in extra ‘me time’. But, when we don’t, we can become continually exhausted. Not only that, but our dreams our goals get put to the back burner. Julia encourages us learn to be self-nourishing. That means consciously replenishing our resources as we, and others, draw on them.
Another perspective is whether we strive to always be busy? Do we fill our diaries because we fear the guilt and lack of purpose that we attach to just ‘being’? ‘The busyness trap’, a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Thomas J. DeLong (read his post here) is the modern day habit of busyness being so ingrained in our culture that we almost don’t know what to do when we aren’t busy. This takes place in corporate culture but is also prevalent in the life of the stay-at-home mum or dad.
Have you ever heard friends (or yourself) saying “I know the kids are at school in the morning but I still don’t have enough time for everything’?
Or those who cut down their hours to spend more time at home say, “I don’t know how I fitted in my job before this!’
Places to Start To Make Room For ‘Me Time’
1) Spend more time at home: we rush here and there all the time, but how often do you spend at home? Do you perhaps even avoid home, because you associate it with household chores? Can you learn to leave a bit of mess and just ‘be’? I found this out the hard way recently when I was holed up at home for about six weeks due to an injury (no driving or walking). My friends and family thought I’d crack up but I had to give into the process of just being at home and, to my surprise, I found I loved being at home more than I thought. It was a revelation.
2) Look at your days: have a close look at your days and analyse if there are things that distract you from pursuing your goal (such as finally getting fitter or losing that extra weight). When I did this, I was shocked to see that I wasted time on things I thought I ‘should’ do (such as constantly tidying the house!) so I scaled down.
My house is less tidy, but I barely notice now. Try dropping one thing that isn’t essential (maybe meeting that colleague or friend for coffee, for instance) and, instead, replace it with something that brings you closer to your goal (like spending an hour in the kitchen batch cooking and listening to music!).
3) Build in a pocket of ‘nothing’: I’ve written previously on the importance of doing nothing in an environment and culture that conditions us to believe that the busier we are, the more important we are. For some, this can even develop into a phobia of having too much time to themselves.
I know I’ve had moments of thinking, ‘What do I actually like to do?’ when given unexpected time. But, during my recovery process, I found that I don’t need to ‘fill’ time with things. Instead, I can just enjoy the moments of relaxation and daydreaming. Your me-time can be spread over the week (10 minutes each day) or you can aim for one whole morning a week.
4) Unplug and put limits down: no matter what the demands are, you have to learn to set limits on your time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate worker or a stay-at-home parent; both have a need to unwind and be ‘off duty’.
Ask others to help and to do certain tasks that you usually do (if you don’t ask, they’re unlikely to offer). For one day, stop using social media, surfing google and checking your phone for emails or Whats App messages. It’s the one day you stop being a slave to your phone. Do it and you’ll be shocked how much easier it is to get that bit of ‘me-time in’, even if it just means lying on your bed day-dreaming or actually reading a book!
Enjoy your ‘me time’ this week…because it’s precious, and so are you!
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum