Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone telling you that they crave more me time? Or has the someone been you? How did you feel afterward? Selfish and guilty? Sorry for all the questions, but speaking from experience, we are trained to consider me-time, also referred to as alone time, a luxury to be indulged only when every single task and chore on our to-do list has been completed.
To that, I say phooey. Everyone needs some time to spend in the quiet solitude of their own thoughts, doing things they care about with out suffering the judgment of others. To that end, here are some of the benefits of setting time aside each day for “me time”.
10 Benefits of Setting Time Aside For Yourself
1. Time to recharge your internal batteries
We live in a crazy mixed up world with hundreds of daily demands on our time. Work, grocery shopping, household chores, paying bills, tending to family matters, and responding to emergencies large and small are part and parcel of daily life. Time is at a premium and it seems as though the to-do list is getting longer rather than shorter, in spite of our best efforts.
Further sucking away at our time is the expectation that we will always be available and in communication with the people we know, no matter how casually. Email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of social media platforms get added to the mix, leaving us with one ping after another. It is like being tapped on the shoulder, electronically, fifty times a day.
By the time bedtime rolls around, we are exhausted. The stress of it all makes it difficult to sleep and so we toss and turn, waking up the next morning as tired as we were the night before.
Taking time for yourself, you can set aside all external influences and, for a short period, indulge in creature comforts. Fire up the essential oil diffuser or light a scented candle. Put on some calming music and let your mind drift. A break as short as 30 minutes or an hour will allow you to recharge your internal batteries and face the rest of the day, and the night, with calm.
2. Reconnect with nature and the universe
There is a reason I love Alaska. Seeing the pristine blue skies and snow-capped mountains evokes a sense of serenity and peace as I realize how tiny and unimportant I am in the big scheme of things. Nature has a way of allowing you to connect with the universe. Creating some me-time outdoors allows you to put your problems in perspective. At least it does for me.
3. Declutter your brain and de-stress
Whoever said that things get easier as you get older lied.
In your 20s, you think things will be easier in your 30s. In your 30s, you think “if only I were in my 40s…life would be easier”. And in your 40s you think things will settle down and get better in your 50s and beyond. Sorry, life simply does not work that way. Each decade brings its own challenges. Those challenges will fill a large heavy bag, the only difference being that over time, the contents of the bag will change.
The problem, as I see it, is that our brains fill up to capacity with minutia. All of our worries about this and that get added to snippets of news and facts that may or may not be useful for the long term. Couple that with work, financial woes, and family relationships that have gone awry and my oh my, you suffer from massive brain clutter and extreme stress.
By slowing down and enjoying some alone time doing something you love, the unimportant snippets, facts, and challenges drop to the bottom of the bag or disappear completely, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter.
4. You get to be lazy
In today’s society, lazy has become a dirty word and I think that is a shame. This is a lesson I have only recently learned and let me tell you, letting go of the guilt associated with doing nothing of significance has been difficult. Still, on those days where I allow myself to be lazy, I find I sleep better and am a more pleasant person to be around on the following day. I make up for a day of laziness by being happier and more productive.
Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
5. Get things done that no one else cares about
Are there things you care about that never seem to bubble up to the top of your to-do list? Chances are that is because they affect you and only you. We have been brainwashed into thinking it is selfish to do something only for ourselves. By taking some time for yourself, you can do silly things or serious things, as long as those things are important to you.
My next so-called silly thing? Organize my huge collection of colored pencils by color then swatch them out on paper to use as a reference. Trust me, no one else cares about this but me.
6. Allows you to jump outside your comfort zone
Most of us live within the confines of a virtual brick wall that defines the things we can do with competence. Having the knowledge we can do them well provides a safety net against failure. That said, taking risks and succeeding can be a joyous experience and what better time to do that then when you are outside the prying eyes and judgment of others?
Me time will give you an opportunity to jump outside your comfort zone and try something new. Be careful, though. This can become addictive.
7. Learn to be more independent
Humans are social animals. Most of us need some sort of contact with other humans in order to share our daily highs, lows, and everything in between. Over time, the constant reliance on contact with others becomes addictive. In my opinion, this is why social media has become so popular in the online world. Offline, we eat together, shop together, go to movies together, and do pretty much everything else with another human.
Alas, the reality of life is that at some point, our loved ones will pass and we will be left to survive without them. If every waking minute of your life is spent with someone else, either as a partner, spouse, parent, or caregiver, it may come as a shock that there can still be a joyous life for you to pursue alone and by yourself. Taking some time for yourself allows you to become independent of others and to become secure in the knowledge that you can do it alone.
8. Improve your relationships
As stress levels diminish, your happiness quotient improves. When you are happy, you are more inclined to roll with the punches and take the ups and down of life in stride. All of this translates into better relationships with the people around you and especially with the people you love.
9. Pursue hobbies to unleash your inner creativity
Being creative (aka making something all by your own self) is a great way to spark the imagination. Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge!”
I agree. Having the ability to imagine the possibility helps with problem-solving as you begin to look at things in a new light. Taking things one step further, successfully solving problems contributes to a healthy self-esteem and a robust sense of self-worth.
Perhaps this is why grown up coloring has become so popular. It sparks inner creativity in such a way that there is no right and no wrong. Whatever the outcome, completing your unique work of art, using colors and tools of your own choice, gives you a sense of accomplishment. And confidence.
Perhaps also, this is why DIY has become so popular. Making stuff is creative. As you create, you solve problems in a new or unique way. This opens your up your imagination to even more possibilities and once again, life is good.
10. Quiet time to catch up on reading
Reading these days has become a guilty pleasure. Whether the latest thriller, a biography of someone you admire, or a potboiler romance, reading takes you to another world where you can escape to dream and imagine yourself in a different milieu.
There is that word again: imagine. Imagination allows you to look at things in a different way, bring a fresh new outlook to daily life. It does not get much better than that.
Summing It All Up
Before wrapping up, I feel it is important to remind you that being alone is not the same as being lonely. Being lonely often denotes a sadness that comes from living a solitary life without deep connections to others. On the other hand, being alone is simply that, spending time with yourself as your sole companion. It does not mean that you extricate yourself from society and remove yourself from social interaction on a long-term basis. Instead, it means giving yourself some “me time” as a mechanism for coping with stress and for flourishing during these stressful and uncertain times.
I work hard to carve out some “me time” each week, if only for an hour or two. It seems to be working because once I resume my normal activities, I do so with increased vigor and optimism for a bright new day. I hope it works for you as well.