You know all about self care, and how important it is to take time for yourself. But when you’re busy, it can feel impossible. Sometimes, even getting just 5 minutes alone seems out of the question. Common excuses for skipping your “me time” include being busy with work, managing your kids’ schedules, taking care of your friends and family, and an unending to-do list. But not only do you deserve some time to yourself, you actually need time alone.
It’s important to note that alone time and being lonely are very different! Loneliness can have a lot of negative emotional impacts, and lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. We’re human, and we thrive on social interaction (though some of us need more than others). Alone time, on the other hand, can actually help you connect with yourself, process difficult emotions or situations without outside influence, and give you time to do the things that make you happy.
Benefits of making time for yourself
Giving yourself time to recharge, relax, and reset has many benefits. The good news is, you don’t need to spend hours of your day alone to feel happier and more at peace with yourself! If you’re wondering if you have time for yourself, you’ll be happy to know that even just 5-10 minutes of “me-time” can do the trick. Here are just a few basic benefits of alone time.
- Better work-life balance. This is one of the main complaints people have about their jobs. With so many people working from home, it’s hard to know where the work day ends, and when your evening begins. Taking time for yourself each day can help you gain a better sense of balance, and help you prioritize your daily tasks.
- Feel more engaged in work and family activities. There is such a thing as too much family and friends time. Once you’ve set aside time for yourself and spent time alone, you’re more likely to enjoy the social interactions you have.
- Improves concentration. Spending time alone with your own thoughts can actually help you learn how to stay present, and improve your focus once you return to the task at hand.
- Helps us unwind and de-stress. One of the best benefits of alone time is being able to relax. Finding time in your day to do something for yourself is great for reducing stress and anxiety.
- Allows space for self-discovery. Many people actually fear being alone with their own thoughts. However, it’s important to spend time with yourself and understand how you process emotions, and learn what’s important to you without the influence of others.
How to find time for yourself in a busy day
Sure, having alone time sounds great. But how can you actually find time for yourself? If you want to find time for yourself in a packed schedule, you have to focus on making yourself a priority. Schedule time for yourself. No really, put it on your calendar or write it in your planner. It’s easy to gloss over the time if it’s not actually scheduled. Once you add me-time as another daily task, it’s easier to make sure you actually rest and reset for a moment in your busy day.
Every day is different. Sometimes you’ve got hours of free time, and other days it’s hard to even find 5 minutes. But making time for yourself is vital to health and happiness. Here are a few ways to rethink your alone time, based on how much time you actually have.
- Journal your thoughts, feelings or anything that’s weighing you down.
- Do a short meditation or series of breathing exercises.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Exercise, dance, or go for a walk. Anything that gets your body moving!
- Read a book, magazine, or listen to a podcast.
- Make time for a sit-down lunch (away from your desk).
- Learn a new skill, or practice a hobby you enjoy.
- Cook yourself an elaborate meal (made with self-love).
- Get a massage in the comfort of your own home.
- Do a full yoga practice, complete with a long savasana.
You can’t pour from an empty cup
One of the main reasons to make time for yourself is so that you can continue to do selfless things. You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” but what does that really mean? Imagine your emotional energy as a full cup of water. If you keep giving water away to other people who are thirsty (your parents, your kids, your friends, your neighbors, etc.), eventually there’s no water left for you, or for anyone else. But if you make time to refill your emotional “cup” between pouring some out for others, there’s more to go around.
Giving is important for our own self-worth and in fostering meaningful relationships. It’s good to do selfless things, especially for the ones we love! But if you aren’t making time to give back to yourself, you’ll run out of things to give to others (patience, love, energy, etc). It’s easy to get caught up in doing service for others, and forget about taking some time to recharge your own emotional bank account.