People today are busier than ever. As I describe in my latest book, Conquering Cultural Stress, we over-schedule and over-work, which gives us no time for ourselves. We are conditioned to accept a mindset that tells us that we should live to work, while in many other cultures, people merely work to live. It’s time that we start to find a better, and more balanced, approach to work that allows us to take back our lives.
If your 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. work day also includes dropping-off and picking-up the kids from school, carpooling from soccer practice to gymnastics, a PTA meeting, making dinner and helping with homework, how can you possibly find time for yourself?
The good news is that finding some “me” time is almost always possible when you commit yourself to making a few simple adjustments. Here are some suggestions:
First, get organized.
Place a large calendar up in a main room in your house, such as the kitchen. Make sure to write down your schedule and activities for every day. Also, make sure you have a small calendar with you at all times—pick up a book-style planner or just use the calendar on your smart phone. When you have times and activities written down in a clear, easy to read format, you’re less likely to forget them and overbook.
Next, learn to say no.
You need to accept the fact that you can’t be all things to all people. Nor can you be in two places at the same time – nobody can. If you are already busy and know time will be tight and life will be stressful if you say yes to one more thing, do yourself a favor and just say no and scheduled it for a later time.
Just like all your other appointments and activities, schedule “me time” into your life and write it on your calendar. Block out at least a little time for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be long; just make sure it is something. Depending on the time you have, here are a few wonderful ways to spend “me time.”
If you have 5 – 10 minutes
- Enjoy a healthy snack while reading a news article.
- Call a friend for a brief chat. Just a quick call to say hello and check in on how he or she doing is enough to reduce isolation and stress.
If you have 15 – 30 minutes
- At the end of the night, make yourself a cup of hot chamomile tea and unwind with your favorite novel. This will allow you a way to get lost in stress-free diversion, escape your hectic life, and relax before bed.
- Go on a short walk. It doesn’t have to be long or far, it just needs to be enough to allow you time to de-stress and reflect.
- Take a hot bath; soak and relax in the tub. If you have little ones, make sure someone else is home to watch over them and keep them out of your space.
If you have 30 – 60 minutes
- Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure.
- Schedule a class you’ve always wanted to take such as dance or cooking.
- Go to the gym and sweat it out. Exercising will make you feel better mentally and physically.
If you have more than 60 minutes
- Go to a movie. Sit back and relax and allow yourself to escape for awhile.
- Get a massage. There are few activities more relaxing than a nice, deep massage to release stress and loosen your muscles.
- Whatever you decide to do, one way to guarantee quality time is to “unplug.” Put down the smart phone. The emails will still be there when you plug back in. Remember, this is “me time,” and that means time for yourself, not time for you to cater to everyone else.
These are simply suggestions to help get you thinking about ways to carve out your own “me time.” I’d love to hear your favorite ways to make time for yourself. Please share in the comments below.