To need something is to go beyond a simple wish or desire; to need is to require something because it is essential or very important.
“Me Time” is a need, a requirement for peace of mind, health of body, and resilience of spirit. If we don’t consciously make time for ourselves, we end up trapped in the flurry of daily to-do’s and approaching deadlines. Me time is about taking intentional moments for yourself; a mental, physical, and emotional intermission from the stressors that wear us down and burn us out.
In the 21st century, we are a go-getting, over-achieving, do-all-the-things type people. In this age of everything, we never lack sources of stimulation. There is no vacuity of things to do/see/read/learn/try and do again. If we are taking good care of ourselves – mind, body, and spirit – then we improve our chances of staying healthy and happy. Our bodies can endure only so much stress before they hit the proverbial wall. How many times have you said the words, “I don’t have time for ____.”? Life isn’t going to offer you up extra time on a silver platter, you have to make time for yourself. The key is making small changes in our daily routines, and you can start with the following tips:
Get an Acupuncture Treatment:
There is a growing body of research that shows that acupuncture treats pain and inflammation, reduces stress, improves blood flow and sleep quality, and even prevents and alleviates menstrual symptoms. Taking care of our bodies should be our number one priority, but are you able to place self-care in the top ten items on your to-do list? If not acupuncture, commit to having some sort of bodywork done on at least a monthly basis. This is the only body you get, so take care of it!
Have a Morning Routine:
Perhaps I should say, “Have a morning routine that isn’t completely rushed.” Give yourself enough time in the morning to do everything you have to do, and a few things you’d like to do. Every morning, I get up, drink a large glass of water, and then prepare loose leaf tea for myself. While the water is coming to a boil, I squat down (to help with elimination regularity), and peel and eat several cutie oranges. Giving myself this time in the morning helps support my digestive health, as well as my mental-emotional health, since I’m not jumping out of bed and rushing out the door. I also love starting my day with positive mantras or affirmations.
Taking this time for yourself in the morning sets the tone for your day.
Keep a Schedule:
Do you often feel as if you’ve been working hard all day long, only to realize that you didn’t actually get much done? When we half-commit and half-finish projects all day long, we are left tired, but without the gratification of a day of accomplishments. Keeping a schedule will keep you on track and can help avoid forgotten items.
Use Your Phone’s Calendar to Schedule in Exercise and Breaks:
Nowadays, most people have a smart phone that is equipped with an equally-smart calendar, which usually will link to your online calendar (i.e. Google Calendar). Set aside time in your schedule for exercise, with a reminder that will give you enough time to get to a class, or that will remind you to eat a snack an hour ahead of time. Committing to a weekly exercise program is made easier by creating a recurring event in your calendar, eliminating forgetfulness as an excuse. You may also find it helpful to schedule in five or ten-minute breaks to get up out of your desk, stretch, and move around. This will break up the monotony of your day, and remind you to take care of your body in bite-sized periods of time. Going on a 15 to 20-minute walk after a meal can also help aid digestion and regulate blood sugar levels for those with type-2 diabetes.
What makes you feel like a kid again? Is it swinging on the swings at the park? Playing with your pet? Dancing like no one is watching? Find the activities that make you smile and giggle and laugh out loud. It is imperative that we participate in these activities on a daily basis. Being an adult has its amazing perks, but sometimes we can learn something from the happy wisdom of children at play.
Remember Your Hobbies:
Were you once an avid reader, painter, dancer, or seamstress? Do you have activities that once gave you joy, but now have fallen by the wayside? Set aside one Saturday or Sunday a month to rediscover these activities. Perhaps you and your partner can make a whole weekend of it! Have kids? Then take turns taking time for yourselves and supporting each other’s activities.
Take a Music Break:
Even if you don’t plan on dancing around while listening, have a few songs that help you relax and make you “just feel good”. Some of the songs may be your favorite pop or rock song, but have at least one without lyrics. No songs coming to mind? Three of my favorite non-lyrics pieces are Autumn by Ryan Stewart, Patrick O’Hearn’s So Flows The Current, and A Fuoco by Ludovico Einaudi.
Meditate and Breathe:
An old Zen proverbs states, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” It’s a comical reminder that the less free time we seem to have, the more we should be intentionally taking time for ourselves. At the top of every hour, take a minute or two to take ten deep breaths, inhaling into your abdomen and exhaling completely. Not only can these breaths combat stress and anxiety by giving your body a boost of oxygen, but the act of breathing deep into your abdomen will help expand and relax your diaphragm, making it easier to keep your breathing deep, rhythmic, and healthful throughout your day.
Take Yourself Out to Eat:
In a culture whose meals are dominated by meetings, television, and catch-up activities, taking yourself out to a long, leisurely lunch can be the nourishing, peaceful space that slows down the pace of your week or month. I take myself out to eat every now and again, but I have a standing lunch date with myself every year on my birthday to relax and reflect back on my previous solar revolution. Each year, I look forward to this solo-time and the opportunity for self-reflection that it gives me.
Put Down Your Cell Phone:
With our modern technology, the world wide web literally at your fingertips. As fantastic as this convenience is, it makes it much easier to wrap up every moment in some thing. The next time you arrive early for an appointment or are waiting for a friend, don’t immediately pop on your phone to check your e-mail or social media. Look around you and appreciate this moment of electronic-free entertainment.
Have a Decompression Routine:
Having a specific routine when you get home from work allows your to shift out of the day’s frenetic energy and into the relaxation of the evening. Discuss your plans with your partner, so they know to give you space for five to ten minutes after you get home, and encourage them to develop their own decompression routine. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes, and then wash and massage my feet. It is a process that allows me to figuratively wash away the stress of my day, and show myself a little self-love. While preparing dinner, I will also prepare an herbal tea and then store it in a thermos container for after dinner.
As with any lifestyle adjustment, it will begin with you setting your intention for change. Make yourself a priority and commit to making time for yourself in the midst of your busy schedule. Taking time for YOU can help reduce stress and boost confidence. A small step of five to ten minutes a day can be one giant leap towards your own personal health and happiness!