Me time makes a positive difference to your mental health
Generosity of spirit is a fine thing, no doubt about it. Giving time to other people and saying yes to requests for help reflects the value of your good nature.1
Yet in the middle of so many other demands on our time – juggling tasks, getting the basic chores down, sorting out family needs, fitting everything around work – there is one person that is easy to overlook, someone who needs nurturing and nourishing, who needs your help more than anyone. You.
We often put ourselves way down the list of priorities. “There are so many other things to do, but I’ll be alright. I’ll soldier on.” When we do have the chance to spend a little time on ourselves, we can feel selfish, even guilty, because it seems we are depriving others of our energy and resources. “Me time” is not selfish. It is essential. And best of all it is really good for you.
The positives of giving yourself a precious few moments every day, every week – recharging flagging energy, promoting inner calm, clearing your mind, restoring balance – are a great way of relaxing you and giving a new lease of passion and patience. If you have been feeling like you are running and running to keep up with things, and always falling behind, there is a danger of feeling stress and anxiety, becoming exhausted and less able to do the things you normally do well. The knock-on effect is often that everyone around you starts to notice that, they worry about you, but they perhaps don’t have time to give you any more space. The chores are never-ending. So, what is ‘me time’? It is different for everybody. Essentially it is setting aside some time to do something for yourself, something that you really enjoy. That could be genuinely pampering yourself, going out for lunch with a friend, sitting quietly and closing your eyes in a warm bath, or having five minutes early in the morning for a reflective cup of tea.2
Part of “me time” is managing your own time. The main thing is that you decide what you want to do with your “me time”, make the space for that time and then stick to it. Avoid the siren call of other distractions telling you to put it off for another day. Just say no to those other things. You may have to turn down a few requests for help. That’s fine – people will understand if you have your hands full, don’t feel guilty if you have to say “no,” – and rest assured it will not deter them from asking again in future! You can ask for help too. If, in order to find half an hour to go for a massage, you need someone to look after the kids after school, just ask one of the neighbors or your partner. They now have a chance to be generous to you, to show how much they appreciate what you do every day – and then when they need a little “me time” of their own you can return the favor. When you have your space, make the most of it. Revel in it. Celebrate this time for yourself. And of course, you could share it. If your ideal “me time” is taking time out to have a long-awaited chat with an old friend you haven’t seen for ages, that might be good “me time” for them too. “Us time” is just as effective!3