What’s ‘me’ time, again? Oh yeah, it’s that moment where you can literally do anything you want without the stress of work obligations or needing to finish up one of your side-hustle projects or calling back the insurance company about that doctor’s appointment you went to last week. It’s a point in the day or week that is all about you and doing what you enjoy, whether that means reading a few chapters in a book, taking a nap or hitting up your favorite workout class. The thing is, ‘me’ time often gets set on the back burner, and while that might be fine some days, going on for too long without even a minute to yourself can weigh negatively on your physical and emotional health.
The big conundrum is that it’s hard to fit in these moments for yourself, especially when you’re not used to doing it. Like many healthy habits, getting started can prove the hardest part. But these experts weighed in on simple ways to work in personal moments to your routine that will definitely fill your happy-meter. Plus, keep this thought on your front burner: If other people and tasks are worthy of your time, care and attention, shouldn’t you be, too?
Plan a date with yourself once a week
Finding an hour to work out, take a walk or even eat a distraction-free meal (AKA not a sad desk lunch) can seem almost impossible. But negotiating these moments to ourselves means we might not show up as our best selves to the people we interact with day to day. “If we want to be present with the world around us, we must designate time to replenish our lost energy,” says Amie Leadingham, a life and relationship coach.
Her trick? Set up a solo date with yourself at least once a week. Designate a section of your calendar for an hour or two to do something that brings you absolute joy and leaves a perma-smile on your face for a few days. Anything from a manicure to perusing the farmer’s market—whatever gives you that ultimate “I love life” feeling is fair game.
Write it down
Most importantly: Schedule. It. Whether you’re a working mom, a solopreneur or an executive, put this “me” time in your calendar. Then, be a stickler about it. It’s easy to feel depleted or tired or like you really can’t fish out those few minutes for yourself, but in reality, you can! That email can wait. You can hold off on making that phone call. What can’t wait? Your health. Give yourself a little brain massage by taking a much-needed (scheduled!) break.
Better yet, make a list
Writing out a bulleted list of items can help you determine what’s eating away your hours and where you can find a few extra seconds for yourself. Start by listing all of the ways you wish you weren’t wasting time—scrolling through social media before bed or spending too long staring at your closet to find an outfit to wear. Whenever you find yourself doing something else that’s taking up time and could rather be ignored, forgotten or better managed, add it to the list.
Then, make a “me” time list by bulleting, alphabetizing or numbering from most important. Just like your time-waster list, update your “me” time list as your needs change. But be conscientious that everything on that list is for you. Things like buy new shoes, get a haircut, and have coffee with a friend should make the cut–not schedule a doctor’s appointment for your child or drop off the dry cleaning. Think of things that bring you joy, and write them down. Then get busy checking them off!
Take advantage of your commute.
The minutes you spend driving in your car or sitting on a train don’t have to count as wasted moments. Use this time to listen to that podcast you heard your co-worker raving about or read that book you saw on the bestseller list. Reaching your destination and fitting in “me” time? Now, that’s doing it right.
Just. Say. No.
A red-suited Nancy Reagan may have voiced those three words 30 years ago, but this time around, let’s use the infamous saying in another context: your workload. You should never feel ashamed to say no to something if it means giving up your precious time. We all need moments to be with ourselves and it is the only way to foster a loving inner connection day in and day out, Katie Kozlowski, a self love and mindfulness coach, says.
Outsource what you can.
We can’t do everything by ourselves (even though we are #stong)! Don’t feel afraid to ask for help every now and again, especially when it comes to saving time. Hate standing in a forever-long line at the grocery store? Use a grocery delivery service. Can’t get home to walk your pup during your lunch break? Call up a dog walker. Have a project that needs background research you won’t have time to devote to? Ask an intern or fellow colleague to spread the work out. You’ll not only lessen your load, but also lower your stress level. Because ain’t nobody got time for anxiety (or long grocery lines tbh).
Start and end your day with meditation.
Alone time also gives us a chance to simply be with our thoughts. We can use this moment to reconnect, think about what’s been bothering us or even not think at all. Kozlowski recommends creating “me” time by etching out five minutes at the start and end of each day. As soon as you wake up and right before you go to bed, put your hands on your heart, feel your body’s rhythm and listen to your breath. You can also do this at the end of your workout. Setting aside “me” time can help manage stress, decrease disease and illness, and help you find extra time just by the virtue of slowing down and reconnecting with yourself. And this small, simple strategy can help get you there.
Treat yo’ self!
If you’ve been staying late at the office or working out every night of week, reward yourself! You stuck to your tasks, and now it’s time to give in to what you really want to do in your free time. Yocheved Golani, a life coach certified in counseling skills, recommends telling yourself out loud, “I’m an achiever!” or “I rock!” Use a saying that’s truly meaningful to you and believe it. In the words of Elle Woods: WE DID IT!