Ditch the guilt – ‘Me Time’ is not a luxury

Have you ever felt overwhelmed to the point you can’t function? You feel as if you have crossed over into another dimension, one that is governed by flight, flight or freeze? May be you should be looking at some ‘Me Time’.

If you’ve ever flown on a plane you will no doubt be familiar with the part of the safety briefing on oxygen “ Place the mask firmly over your nose and mouth, and breathe normally. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”

This metaphor draws attention to a simple but important fact: ‘if you run out of oxygen (i.e. don’t look to yourself first), you will be unable to help anyone else.’

That brings us to why ‘Me Time’ is not a luxury.

Me Time, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary is ‘time when you can do what you want to do’

We live in a fast-paced and ever changing world where there is so much to do, and not enough time to do it in. With so many responsibilities we struggle to find time to just stop, and process what is happening and how we are feeling. Constantly multitasking may create an illusion of productivity and success, but it often comes at a cost of both quality of output and our health. Being permanently “on” is not good, and there is heavy a price to pay for always being available and forgetting to take care of our own needs. The list is long; burnout, stress, reduced performance levels, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, health problems, anxiety, frustration, inability to sleep, and so on. Our bodies are trying to tell us something and we need to listen.

Regardless of whether you’re a CEO, a junior employee or a full-time parent, we’ve all had times where we’ve felt overwhelmed by what work and life throws at us – simply ploughing on regardless is not a long-term solution. To be able to handle life’s stresses and become more resilient we need regular down time; time to care for ourselves and perform at the highest level. Self-care is incredibly important, and this is where ‘Me Time’ can help provide an element of balance. It helps replenish us, allowing time for deep thinking, unwinding, increasing our creativity and giving us space for self-discovery.

On the face of it, taking ‘Me Time’ can feel like a waste of already precious time, and even at times selfish. But carving out time for ourselves is vital to keeping healthy. If we feel healthy, and energised we are generally in a much better position to support and nurture both ourselves and others. When we make ourselves a priority, the benefits trickle down to everything else in life.

‘Me Time’ is simply a time to be “with yourself, for yourself,” – a time when you can do whatever you want to do. See it is a reprieve from the relentless pressure, an opportunity to find balance, a time to recharge, reset, and restore energy. You don’t have to put aside a lot of time, studies have shown that quality ‘Me Time’ is more important than quantity; but it has to be for yourself.

To get into the driving seat, take the time to think about what self-care actually means for you.

Find your own answers; tap into your thoughts and feelings, as they are the ultimate driver of our behaviours and actions. Try to recognise the types of space and activities what will give your mind and body the break it needs. We are all unique individuals so it will be a different experience for everyone. What appeals to one person could be torture for someone else.

See ‘Me Time’ as a reward. It can include anything that makes you feel relaxed and de-stressed. Consider experiences, as they help us to express ourselves and create positive cognitive recall after the event. Look at unstructured activities such as bike riding, running, a walk in the park, sketching, listening to music, sitting somewhere peaceful, even an everyday task that you enjoy. Your event choices should allow an opportunity for you to enjoy and get comfortable with yourself, and not be something that you want to escape from.

To optimise your ‘Me Time’, don’t push yourself to achieve or complete anything. Unplug your gadgets, and immerse yourself in your chosen event, relax, unwind, and re-energise – remember the most important thing is to just enjoy it.

The critical ingredient for ‘Me Time’ is getting off our butts and having it; not tomorrow, not next week, but today. Schedule an appointment with yourself, like you would with your doctor. Keep these appointments with yourself, and commit to building ‘Me Time’ into your life.

Carving out time for yourself is vital to keeping healthy, and the benefits will trickle down to everything else in your life.

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