8 Ways to Put Yourself on Your Priority ListFinding Time for ''Me'' Time
-- By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach
How often have you found yourself thinking or saying the following?
"I wish I had more time for myself."
"I'm so busy! I don't have a moment to breathe."
"I need more hours in the day."
"I don't have time for that."
We lead crazy, busy lives. And the one thing we never seem to have time for is ourselves. This problem seems even more pervasive as we work harder to meet the challenges of this new economy.
Creating more personal time tops the list of goals many people want to accomplish. With work time, partner or family time and social time all demanding our attention, we are constantly juggling our day-to-day responsibilities. Finding as little as 15-30 minutes a day of uninterrupted, relaxing "me" time is challenging at best.
But we all instinctively know that when we take time for ourselves to pursue our passions, do the things that we enjoy, relax or even do nothing at all, we end up happier, healthier and feeling better. "Me" time allows us to de-stress, unwind and rejuvenate. Taking time for yourself allows you to renew, heal, and create reserves of energy and peace.
When I ask my clients why they don't plan more "me" time in their schedules, three common themes arise: not enough time, feeling guilty, or it feels selfish. The more giving and caring a person you are, the more these feelings seem to emerge.
Remember that no matter what we do, there are only 24 hours in a day, so you can't create more time. But you can clear some time by reevaluating priorities, perhaps saying "no" more often and practicing smart time management.
"Me" time is not something you should feel guilty about. It's nothing more than taking some time to put aside your everyday business and treating yourself to an activity that you enjoy. It gives you an opportunity to relax, refocus and recharge. And when you do that, you can come back to your responsibilities with greater focus, commitment and enjoyment.
It is very common to become so involved in giving to others that we fail to give to ourselves. And although this is more often a trait in women, there are plenty of men out there who feel this way too. Many are so caught up in earning a living to take care of their families, that breaking away from responsibilities to indulge in hobbies, reading or hanging out with the guys makes them feel selfish.
If everyone else around you is worthy of care and attention, then so are you. You not only deserve this time, but you need it for your own well-being. Lack of time for ourselves often leads to feeling frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and out of balance. Without this time for ourselves, we lose sight of what's important to us.
Occasionally I am asked, "Doesn't exercise count as 'me' time?" Well the answer is yes and no. If you approach exercise as another responsibility to cross off the list, and/or get more joy when you are done vs. enjoying the actual time spent working out, you are probably getting lots of health benefits, but not the same kind you get from "me" time. Unless you walk away from your routine feeling renewed, refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the world once again, you may still need another activity that you do just for the pure joy of doing it. If, despite a regular exercise routine, you still feel overwhelmed and yearning for personal time, scheduling a few "me" time activities will do you a world of good!
Let's look at some ways you can make "me" time a reality:
First, decide that you deserve some time to yourself each day. Stop feeling guilty for taking time out for you, and realize in the long run, it's a win-win for everyone. When you are tired, stressed out and pulled in too many directions, it is hard to give your best to all you must accomplish. Remember, self-time is not selfish—it's a necessary dimension of self-care!
Decide how best to spend "me" time. How each of us chooses to spend free time is as individualized as we all are. If you had an extra 15 minutes, a half hour, an afternoon or an entire day, what would you do to make yourself feel rejuvenated, relaxed and happy? Write a list and keep it handy when you begin scheduling time into your calendar.
Evaluate the things that are wasting your time each day. Do you check your emails constantly and end up spending more time on your computer than you planned? Do you answer personal calls in the middle of your workday? Run to the supermarket daily to pick up dinner rather than plan in advance and shop once? If this sounds like you, you must take the time to organize your responsibilities, and you will gain more free time than you can imagine.
Learn to say "no" to requests to do things that you don't really want to, don't value or don't bring you satisfaction and joy.
Ask for help with chores that don't necessarily have to be completed by you alone.
At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to designate specific time slots for all that must be accomplished—including "me" time. Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable.
Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of "me" time every day. Do something (or nothing) that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts.
Create a daily ritual. This can be a bath, listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. Make it something you can look forward to. Years ago, when my children were small and life felt too hectic and overwhelming, I created a ritual for "me" time. I decided it was well worth it to get up 45 minutes before the rest of the family to enjoy my coffee and breakfast in solitude. To this day it's my time to read, daydream or just bask in the sounds of silence. Looking forward to this time, and a coffee pot on a timer, gets me out of bed with a smile on my face.
Stop wishing you had more time to yourself, and commit to carving it into your schedule. Rather than bemoan your lack of time, change your approach and create the time using the tips above. You will be amazed at how a little bit of time to yourself can make a huge difference in your health and happiness!
Richardson, Cheryl. 1999. Take Time for Your Life: A Personal Coach's 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want, NY, Broadway Books.