Why Me Time is Important for Your Health
Get the kids ready for school. Work all day. Grab groceries on the way home. Pay the bills. Maintain relationships. Finish the laundry. Clean the dishes. Vacuum the house. Our list of responsibilities never ends! Many of us feel the need to stay busy all the time. We find ourselves rushing around from one responsibility to another trying to crunch as much as we can into each day. We relentlessly push ourselves to do more and tend to measure our success by how much we do. On top of all the daily duties we’ve created for ourselves, we live in a hyper-connected world where every spare second we have is used to connect on social media, check emails, and peruse the internet. There is one thing you might be forgetting to add to your daily routines—setting aside me time for yourself.
Many people believe that busy-ness = productivity. But sometimes doing nothing at all can be the most productive thing you can do. While it is good to push yourself at times, it has been found that going long periods without setting aside personal time ends up being detrimental in the end. Without solitude, we head down a road leading to poor health and negative psychological effects including headaches, lowered immune function, depression, anxiety, obesity, heart attacks, and poor concentration. Just like food and sleep are vital for our well-being, time for yourself is equally important.
Making me time makes you be a better person, inside and out. Sadly, Western culture doesn’t always equate time alone as being healthy, and people seeking solitude have been told they are sad, depressed, or antisocial. But, seeking alone time can not only give you a health boost, it also boosts creativity and productivity, refreshes and energizes, enhances the quality of relationships, and can also reduce behavior problems in your children, too! Making time for yourself is imperative for a healthy, happy life.
By now, many of us are aware of the repercussions of stress on our mental and physical health. The American Psychological Association (APA) has found that stress sets off the body’s alarm system, flooding your body with hormones, elevating your heart rate and increasing blood pressure. Giving yourself a break and getting away from all distractions gives you a chance to clear your mind, focus and let stress melt away.
The APA has found that even simply juggling the little everyday details of lives can send our bodies into that fight or flight mode, just as you were in a dangerous situation like a car wreck or being chased. And, the longer you are stressed out, the worse it becomes for our mind and body health. Psychologists from the APA state “Chronic stress can cause disease, either because of changes in your body or the overeating, smoking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress.” By allowing yourself time alone, you can combat these issues by giving yourself time to reflect and think clearly, reducing stress and staying healthy. Studies have shown that spending time alone is linked to increased happiness, greater life satisfaction, improved stress management, and less depression.
Allowing yourself alone time can improve relationships, too. Have you ever become snippy with a family member or answered with a short, irritated tone to your boss when he asked a simple question? These instances occur when we are feeling overwhelmed and inundated with too much on our plates. By scheduling some personal time, you can settle your nerves, decompress and leave stress behind so you can focus on what is happening in the moment. You can then return to your day and fully concentrate on spending quality time with loved ones.
Without taking time for one’s self, you might find yourself internally building resentments that can harm you and loved ones. When you concentrate on pleasing everyone else and neglect yourself, you run the risk of running out of steam and patience. By scheduling alone time can reconnect with yourself.
In addition, when you practice solitude, you are also teaching your children that being alone is healthy. Research has shown that kids who are able to play by themselves are better behaved, so make sure to lead by example and take a moment for yourself.
Boost Energy and Productivity
Setting aside me time also gives you an energy boost. People become exhausted with the constant distractions we all deal with in this technological age. Text messages, emails, phone calls, social media. It never ends, and it can drain your energy. Spending time alone gives you time to settle your nerves, reset and regain clarity and focus. By taking ten minutes to turn off all your devices and drop everything you are doing and take a moment to breathe, you can recharge, and harness energy needed to get through the rest of the day.
Constant motion and activity can diminish creativity by preventing you from engaging in deep thought. Creativity and productivity are enhanced when you are rested, and your mind is clear and focused. According to Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet, told Scientific America in an interview that “Solitude is a crucial (and underrated) ingredient for creativity.” Many people have become used to working in teams or with a partner, but sometimes people don’t fully express their ideas in these situations for fear others might reject their ideas. Through time alone, you can give yourself permission to open that mind to new ideas and discoveries, and then take these fresh ideas to the next level.
How To Do It
It might seem impossible to find any free time for yourself during your bustling day, but the benefits are so enormous, it’s something everyone must make a point to do. Schedule me time every day—even if it is just five or ten minutes. If you are a person who uses a day planner or makes a to-do list, make sure to add this time in to your day. Then, make it happen.
You can take a moment for yourself almost anywhere. Go sit on a bench at a park. Wake up ten minutes early and sit alone on the couch. Sit in your car on your lunch break at work. Find an empty office to retreat to. Float silently in a bubble bath. Or, take a ten-minute walk—by yourself, of course.
If you have a family and plan to take time out at home, make sure to communicate. Let them know you are setting aside quiet time for yourself and that you are not to be disrupted during that ten or twenty minutes. Anything they want can wait until you are done. This is also a good time to teach and get the whole family involved in their own personal time. It will benefit the entire family.
One of the most important steps in taking time for yourself is to disconnect. Make sure all devices and electronic distractions are turned off or in another room. Responding to social media friends, or answering emails can wait until you’ve finished taking time for yourself. Sitting quietly and breathing is all you need to do. Focus on taking deep breaths, taking a moment to reflect on the day–or on nothing at all.
So, make sure to schedule and take time for yourself each day. Your body, mind, family and friends will thank you.