Most people in our culture feel the need to be going all the time. If we are not working and putting our energy into something, we believe we are wasting time. We may feel taking time for ourselves is a waste and won’t accomplish anything.
And to some extent it’s true – relentlessly pushing yourself may bring some measure of success. However, most of time going for long periods without time for yourself may cost you in the end. Stress and the inability to just enjoy a little time-out have very real health and psychological effects.
Health effects can include heart attacks, strokes, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, lessened immune function, and even premature death. Mentally, people may experience mental fatigue, insomnia, confusion, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, and increased irritability. Just like we need sleep, we need time out.
Why Time To Yourself Is Important
Obviously, the biggest reason to take a little time out for yourself is to avoid the negative consequences of not doing so (like the health problems I mentioned above). But more than that, “me” time can make you a better person both inside and out.
First of all, taking some “me” time can help you avoid irritability and enable you to control your emotions. If you live with someone, like a spouse, partner or children, or even pet, they may not understand your need to take “me” time but they certainly will appreciate the way your mood has improved. Both the people who are close to you, and the people you work with, will appreciate that you have greater stamina and better ability to concentrate.
The lack of time to yourself can cause you to build up resentments that can harm both you and your relationships. When you spend all your time filling other people’s cups, it’s likely yours will run empty. Sometimes, especially when we’re tired, we may become angry about giving so much.
We sometimes minimalize our need for “me” time by thinking about how we’re denying attention to other things that are important to us, such as our family, our friends, our gym time, our book club, the lawn, or whatever else. We feel selfish taking the needed time out when there’s so much left to do. However, if you run yourself into the ground you’re not going to be much help to anyone, and you won’t be able to be fully engaged in your activities anyway. Your health is vital, and if you think these obligations can’t succeed without you, think of what might happen if you become sick and have to set them aside for a longer amount of time. You need a little time to recharge your batteries.
How To Take “Me” Time
It might seem easy to schedule a little “me” time, but often it isn’t. You must give yourself permission to take at least a half hour per day, even if it’s divided, just for yourself. If you have to, set the alarm, schedule it on the calendar, or put it on your “to-do” list for the day. Whatever you have to do, make it happen every day.
Taking this “me” time can be as simple as sitting on the deck, reading a book, and watching the sun come up with a hot cup of coffee, or it can be as detailed as engaging in a beloved hobby for a half hour or more. Unless you consider texting or talking on the phone a relaxing activity, keep all devices turned off.
If you take your “me” time at home, be sure that those around you are aware that you will be off limits – except in an emergency, of course. It might be best to define ‘emergency’ or you may be interrupted by perceived emergencies that could have easily waited until after your rest period.
Setting boundaries is important. Realize that there are limits to what you can do, and build your life around that. Also acknowledge that you need to limit the demands that other people can make on your time.
The Benefits Of “Me” Time
Taking a little time for yourself refreshes and re-energizes you. It allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions.
Taking “me” time also builds your self-esteem over time, as you come to realize that you are important and deserve to have a little time to yourself. If you engage in something you enjoy during your time-out, you also have the satisfaction of reading that book, finishing that project, or writing that poem. But be careful that you use your “me” time for leisurely activities and don’t push yourself to complete anything. Simply enjoy the time out.
Other benefits include the ability to sleep better, less fatigue, depression and anxiety, greater resistance to sickness, and less tension.
Indirectly, taking time for yourself may also improve your interpersonal and business relationships, making you a better partner, parent, or employee.