Why You Need 'Me' Time
What is Me time?
Me time is usually regarded as time spent relaxing on your own - it might be that you choose to spend some of that time with others but what defines me time is that it is time when you do exactly what YOU choose to do. Its time when you are not doing things for other people or working - it's time for you.
Historically it is a fairly new concept, for many social classes anyway - think back to Victorian times when days off were few and far between and for many life was a constant round of work and sleep and struggle for survival. Life has changed for many now, certainly in the West but there are new demands on our time and stress and stress related illnesses are rising. So it is perhaps more important than ever to maintain balance in your life. Ensuring you get some regular quality 'me' time is part of a balanced lifestyle.
Nowadays many people feel life is like spinning plates, with numerous demands on our time. Work, but for many family responsibilities too and perhaps some training or study, either related to work or for some other purpose, then there may be voluntary work, of some sort, helping out at a children's school for example or with a church or community project. As many families may have extended family that live far away that is something else that which may be nice can also mean a lot of travelling. It all adds up to a pretty busy lifestyle for many.
Think about your average day, how much of it is really at our disposal? For some people almost every minute is directed, alarm goes, leap out of bed, perhaps sort out children for school, off to work, maybe running errands at lunchtime then possibly shopping on the way home cooking a meal and then maybe some quiet time but maybe a meeting, study or helping children with homework in the evening or fitting in some exercise. That's all fine as long as some days there is some time for you to concentrate on yourself and do some of the things you like to do.
We all know the old proverb "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" (or Jill a dull girl!).
It's true, when we feel like all we are doing is either working or doing things for others it takes a toll on us and without being careful can lead to unhappiness and even depression. It's something that may be particular problematic for people who have a role in caring for family members or relatives.
Having some time for us allows us to be refreshed and rejuvenated and that means better able to carry on doing all the things we are doing. People are often reluctant to take any time out because they feel they are indispensable or people rely upon them but actually there is a big risk of burnout so looking after yourself will often mean you are better able to keep on supporting the people who rely on YOU.
But don't just do it for others the important thing is that you should do it for you because you are valuable, and you need to look after yourself.
How Do You Get it?
As a coach and therapist often work with people who tell me they can't fit in any time for themselves. Well put simply if you are too busy to make time for you - you are simply too busy. If you don't start fitting it in it will have a detrimental impact on your health. The real reason many people don't fit it isn't is because they don't think they are very important, somehow they don't deserve it. If that is the mind set you have then that can be changed - begin by simply reminding yourself that you are unique human and you are of value. People who have a mind set that says they don't deserve me time are often the type of folk who have a bit of a martyr complex and will end up being pressed into doing more than is comfortable so it really is a mind set that needs dealing with at some point.
Plan and Prioritise
Like lots of things if you put something in your diary, whether that is a physical diary or a virtual one on a smart phone, it is much more likely to happen. We've probably all had experiences where we've said to someone 'let's get together' but if a time isn't fixed, weeks or even months might drift by before the meeting actually happens. If you do book a time in then even if you have to cancel it the chances are you will identify another time.
It is just the same with time for yourself. If you leave it to chance it probably won't happen and remember it is important for it to happen. So make sure when you make plans that you allow some time for you. People differ about how much time they allow and in many ways the quantity is perhaps not as important as simply making sure that SOME time is planned in for yourself and given priority.
What To Do During 'Me' Time?
In many ways what you choose to do with your 'me' time might dictate how you plan and prioritise. I think it's reasonable to have a short burst of 'me' time each day - half an hour with a good book, or your favourite magazine, perhaps watching an episode of a favourite TV show, a long leisurely bath, a quite cup of tea by yourself, just to take stock, perhaps a relaxation session, or a maybe a walk or yoga.
The difference is about the element of choice, if you CHOOSE to go for a walk because you want to that means it could be 'me' time, if you are walking because you have to collect something or get somewhere, well that isn't really 'me' time at all. I think it's perfectly normal for many not to be able to fit a slot in every day, though I must say I usually try to make at least half an hour 'mine' each day, but a if a whole week goes by without sometime for yourself that isn't good.
Then each week it's nice to have a longer slot, maybe to indulge in a hobby or class or even catch up with a friend. Again the key is doing it because YOU want to and if trying to fit it in becomes a big stress then it's probably not the best thing to be doing - making the time for YOU is the important bit but if you feel like whatever you do in that slot brings it's own stress then perhaps think again about what you are choosing and is it really time for you.
Then every once in a while I think it is good to have a longer slot a day or half day just to indulge your self, perhaps with a spa day or a visit to somewhere or just to curl up on the sofa. It's you r time so you can do what you want.
So 'me' time is definitely good for you. It's important to relax and reflect and some people really only count time alone as 'me' time whereas there are some times I may see friends and it is a recharge and chance for reflection. Whatever 'me' time looks like for you the important thing is that you prioritise this time and make sure you get some. It will be good for you and YOU are important and worth looking after.