“Me time” has become a popular catchphrase, but it’s still mired in the possibility of simply sounding selfish, indulgent even. We can all talk a good game about how much me time we intend to take until the guilt creeps in, or the busy schedule creeps in, or the “I’m really fine; I can just power through” thoughts take hold.
But here’s the reality: your “me time” is really an “all of us” time because you making sure that you’re functioning well benefits everyone around you. It allows you to show up clearer headed, more energized, and better able to process and cope with whatever presents itself.
Here are some thoughts to consider when you’re on the brink of ditching your me time.
What is Me Time?
First, let’s take a moment to look at exactly what we’re talking about: Me time, in short, is simply time we take to reset and recenter ourselves, in whatever way that works best.
It can take the form of a hike, a trip to the gym, reading, listening to music, meditation, a bath, or lying in bed with your eyes closed.
Anything that you do totally for you that feels restorative falls into the me time category. It doesn’t have to involve any set up; it doesn’t have to cost anything. It doesn’t even need to take much time: even 10 minutes of me time is better than none.
Something that me time isn’t–it is not a task or obligation. The whole goal here is to fill yourself back up, not drain yourself more. If your me time activity takes substantial effort–be that emotional, mental, or physical–you may want to opt for something less demanding.
If sitting on a comfy sofa doing nothing for 20 minutes brings you back to center, just do that. And me time doesn't have the be the same thing every time: maybe one day you read, another day it's a walk, and another day you stretch while listening to a favorite song.
It’s Important to Take the Me Time Before You Need It
Me time is excellent preventative care. Yes, taking some me time is especially critical when you’re totally burnt out, but it’s also a great way to make sure you don’t get to that point to begin with. And indeed, many of us are so over-busy, we don’t even realize we need a break (having some me time can help you get in touch with that; more on that in a moment).
Most of us are far too good at taking on too much; pushing those boundaries can be downright dangerous (stress really is a health issue). It can also have negative consequences for those around you.
When we’re overwhelmed, we tend to be more short tempered, make more mistakes, carry more general anxiety, become more distracted and forgetful, get sick more easily, make poor nutrition choices–the list goes on.
Said more concisely: we limit our ability to be our best selves, for ourselves, our loved one, and our community.
Consistent Me Time Is Key
Taking short, frequent bouts of time for yourself is much more helpful than one big bout every so often. That is, the yearly golf weekend, all day spa day every six months, or once in a blue moon yoga retreat is great, but that will not deliver the same sort of everyday benefits a more consistent me time practice can.
This is a big reason why keeping your me time practices simple and easy is key. This is also why making them as short as they need to be to make them something you can realistically do regularly helps.
Me Time Keeps You Connected to Yourself
Not only does this time for yourself help you recalibrate, it’s an excellent time to simply reconnect with yourself. How are you feeling, really? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Do you need to move? Or would you be better off with a bit of rest? Have you been breathing well with full deep breaths or spent the day taking short and shallow breaths? What's really on your mind?
When we regularly take the time to check in and actively help ourselves, we can tap into what helps us feel better and what really drains us. While you may not be able to eliminate parts of your life that are really stressful, even recognizing specifically what those parts are is helpful.
It's assuring to understand that there’s a reason for your feelings as opposed to simply a vague, out of control sense of overwhelm. This can also help you prioritize how you spend your energy and decide how much me time you may need. Certain times of life call for more restorative time than others.
Make Me Time Non-Negotiable
Schedule your me time like any other important event on your calendar. And just like you wouldn’t skip out on an obligation to your friends, children, or partner, make your date with your downtime non-negotiable.
If it helps to pretend as if you’re actually showing up for someone else (many of us are more motivated to meet other people’s needs than our own, after all), do that. And in a way, that’s true: you’re showing up for your better self.
Another big benefit of scheduling me time is that it gives you something to look forward to. If you’re in the middle of a busy, stressful day, knowing that at 3pm you’ve committed to reading a great book for 20 minutes can help you cope in the moment: there is a finish line.
Give It a Try and See What Happens
We all know that it’s nice to take a break for ourselves. But it can feel overindulgent to do frequently. Be that as it may, consider giving consistent me time breaks a try.
Over the course of the next month or two, schedule in time for yourself on a regular basis: perhaps every day, or on weekdays, or even three times a week. At the end of each week, reflect on your general mood and state of being.
If you’re not sure it’s making an impact, ask someone close to you if they notice a difference. Chances are, they may recognize ways that you’re moving through life a little more calm, grounded, patient, thoughtful, or kind.
After all, while me time is for you, it’s also for those around you.