Is that really how much time we have in a year? With work and school and family and everything in between, it slips away and suddenly we’re another year older and another year stressed. Our society has placed such an emphasis on hustle, hustle, hustle, and turning everything into productivity that a lot of us have forgotten what it’s like to just slow down and enjoy “me-time.” For me, this resulted in a lot of stress, a lot of misery, and a TON of tears.
Despite being relatively successful in my professional life and having a wonderful support system both online and off, I was wound tighter than one of those rubber bands they put in braces; I was ready to SNAP at any given moment. And sometimes I did just that. I would be rushing through life taking every possible opportunity and then at the most minor inconvenience, I would cry or scream or just break down. I would take out my frustrations on myself and the people I love.
And let’s be honest: no one wants to be around someone who is freaking out all of the time.
So I’ve taken a step back. I’m doing my best to take life one step at a time. And, most importantly, I’m making more time for myself.
Life is getting busier and busier for everyone. With the advancement of technology, we’re expected to be available 24/7; for our family, our friends, our jobs — everyone! But what about ourselves? Did you know that taking time for yourself has actually be shown to:
But where do we even start? Like most things in life, it’s easier said than done. And it certainly isn’t going to happen overnight. I’ve been building my me-time using these 4 steps.
Define Your Me-Time
Everybody is different, so it only makes sense that everybody’s me-time is going to be different as well.
Take some time to think about what you enjoy doing; things that make you feel good inside and out. For some people, these are going to be simple everyday things, like a hot cup of special coffee or a new book waiting to be cracked open. For others, it might be something a little more luxurious like a warm bubble bath with special scented oils and fancy candles or a trip to your favorite salon.
Whatever you think of, try to make a list of at least 3 things. It’s good to have a repertoire of choices at your disposal so your me-time doesn’t become mundane and something you no longer look forward to enjoying.
It’s also important that you don’t leave yourself with too many options. You may find yourself struggling to make a decision and then all of that time you set aside has been wasted and maybe even caused more stress. My general rule of thumb is to keep it between 3 and 6 options. To help you out, here’s my list:
- at-home mani-pedis
- video games
- homemade latte
- My Happy Place
Schedule Your Me-Time
Now that we’ve identified our me-time, when are we actually going to have time to actually have this me-time?
When it comes down to it, our me-time is special self-care. I like to think of my self care as habits — ie a regular practice. The easiest way to build a habit, is to just keep repeating it. To do that, set aside a special time every single week for you to spend by yourself.
I know everyone is busy in different ways — whether you’re a parent, a student, a professional, or anything in between — and it can be hard to find time in our day. Try to find just 10 minutes.
That’s all you need to really make a difference in your life: 10 minutes a week.
Use a system that works for you to note this very special time. I’m a big fan of physical planners, but I know people who love their digital calendars, iPhone reminders, etc. Hell, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror for all I care! Whatever is going to help you remember that this time is me-time.
Schedules are meant to be flexible and fluctuate with your needs, but do your best to make this time non-negotiable. Using an email calendar? Mark this time as “busy.” Big fan of planners? Use a special colored pen for this one. Me-time isn’t going to work if you keep scheduling over it, so write it down and
STICK. WITH. IT.
This is where the hard part comes in.
You’ve decided on your self care repertoire and you’ve set aside space in your life for me-time. But your friend really wants you to come over for wine; or your job wants you to take on extra hours; or your mom really wants you to help her with that Pinterest DIY she saw.
You are allowed to say “NO.”
It can be hard, especially at first. Especially for those of us programmed to be people pleasers. But saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. Say it again with me:
Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself.
There is nothing selfish about self-care. Your friend will have wine and cheese another night, that work project will still be there in the morning, and your mom will still be working on that DIY for weeks. You wouldn’t cancel on important plans with a friend, so why cancel important plans with yourself?
Review Your Me-Time
I mentioned earlier that the best way I have found for maintaining my me-time is by practicing it as a habit. The best way I have found to build my habits and keep them going strong is to review my progress weekly. I’ve been doing the same thing with my me-time. I’m keeping track of just a few things:
- Did I schedule me-time?
- Did I stick to my schedule?
- How did I feel before/during/after me-time?
By keeping a log of these things, we are not only holding ourselves accountable to our newly formed me-time routine; we are also showing just how effective it is.
You might want to keep your log in a bullet journal, in a notepad, or maybe even in a note-taking app on your phone. I like to log mine using a Trello Board that I use daily so it always gets my attention. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something easy for you to access for you to access every week.
Crafting your ideal me-time isn’t going to happen overnight. Like every new habit, it takes a lot of repetition and practice. The more you work at it, the more second nature it will become. Just follow the four steps:
- Define: decide what me-time is for you by choosing between 3-6 different activities
- Schedule: make time on you calendar for me-time; write it in pen, not pencil
- Say No: don’t take on obligations that interrupt your me-time
- Review: take a look back at your me-time for the week and determine what worked and what didn’t, then pivot for the upcoming week
I would love to chat more with you about how you practice me-time or other techniques you use to care for your mental wellbeing! Leave a comment down below or find me on Twitter.