In today’s jam-packed, over-committed, mega-busy world, it’s hard to find time for numero uno: yourself. Remember, you’re the only one who can take care of you. Stress, lack of exercise/sleep and a poor diet will ruin your performance no matter what your job. According to the NSW Mental Health Association, 75% of Australians surveyed admitted that stress in their lives adversely affected their physical health, while 64% said it affected their mental health. Creating “me” time is one way to counter the stress that wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds. Here are a few tips for creating time for yourself:
- Cultivate Good Habits:
We talked about the importance of simple daily rituals that you do each day in the morning and/or at bedtime in our post about staying sane through the holiday season. However, these rituals will continue to help you relax and feel in control of your life throughout the year. Set your alarm clock and meditate, stretch or exercise every day before work. Set aside 30 minutes to read a novel or biography you’ve been dying to read every night before bed. If you find mornings and evenings hectic like this writer did, try working out at lunch to experience better sleep, improved mood, and less guilt at the day’s end. Just do whatever it is that helps you feel balanced every day and refuse to deviate. Soon you’ll find you’ve created an automatic behaviour that will stick with you when the going gets rough and create compounding returns in your professional and personal life.
- Schedule and Defend:
If you are the type of person who lives by your diary, start scheduling “me” time and block that time from disruptions or distractions. For example, take yourself out to lunch once a week, block out time for creative endeavours like playing music or painting, or pre-book your gym sessions. Treating your personal stress-relief as a “major to-do” can make it easier to prioritize when you are stressed, according to The Muse. The flip side of pencilling in time for yourself is learning to say “no,” to things that pull you away from your time. If a social commitment doesn’t excite you, ditch it by politely declining. This can free up valuable time for you to do what you want to do. Check out some useful lines and methods of saying “no” here.
- Communicate to Get What You Need:
This is as true for demanding bosses as it is for demanding spouses: sometimes you must ask for what you need. If your partner asks you to pick up the kids for the umpteenth time in a row and you feel like you haven’t had a break in years, it’s time to talk. Go on a date or sit down in a relaxed environment, and explain that you need some “me” time. That way, you both can work out a way to add some alone time that works with your current obligations. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with an overbearing boss, try the same method but use different tactics. You probably need and deserve that vacation you’ve been fantasizing about over the last 18 months. Here is how to ask for it.
Creating personal time can be difficult but is almost always worth it. Make taking care of yourself a habit, a scheduled obligation, or a mutual commitment. No matter how you do it, you’ll be happier, more relaxed, and satisfied you did.