9 Ways to Squeeze More “Me-Time” Into Your Busy Day
Are there several points throughout the day that you find yourself thinking or saying, “I don’t have time to do that today” or “I’ll have to leave that for tomorrow/the weekend” … and eventually some things get pushed to tomorrow’s list, next week’s list, next month’s list? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In today’s hectic world, it’s often a struggle to balance so many things at once. A full time job, maybe you have kids or you volunteer or have pets, cooking healthy, staying active, socializing, chores… how is there enough time in the day? Most often, there’s not enough time, or we’re trying to do too much. The first step to fixing this problem is to accept that most days, not everything will get done, and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty for not getting to something. The important things will get done. The next step is to make sure you schedule your time efficiently so that instead of having things back-to-back, you give yourself some buffer time between tasks so that you can relax more and not rush.
The most important thing, though, is to make sure you are not neglecting your “me-time” throughout the day. This can be difficult to prioritize with so many other things on the go, but there are easy ways to do it, even if you just have 5 minutes. And it’s amazing what a 5 minute break can do for your stress levels and mood!
Here are 9 ways to squeeze more “me-time” into your day… no matter how busy it is.
Take a Breather. Whether work has got you in a tizzy or you’re rushing from one thing to another or everything in your day is just not working out as it should… just stop. Close your eyes (when it’s safe to do so – i.e., not when you’re driving!), and try to clear your mind. Then focus on taking 10 deep breaths. Make sure the breath fills your belly as you inhale—as often, too many of us don’t get a full-belly breath, but rather breathe upwards, which is not as relaxing. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Try to make your out-breath twice as long as your inhale. Do this 10 times, with your eyes closed. You can actually feel your nervous system calming and the panic going away. And the best thing about this? It can be done anywhere, anytime you need a breather.
Call a Family Member or Friend. Someone with whom you have a good connection and will either listen to your trials and tribulations, or tell you a funny story, or just chat about their day. It doesn’t have to be long. Even 5-10 minutes of conversation with someone we love can help us relax, re-center, and feel more fulfilled with our day.
Go Outside. If you work in an office all day or spend most of the time indoors, you know how great it is to finally step foot outside. That’s not just because you’re done work for the day, either! Being outside has so many amazing benefits. The sun provides us with vitamin D which impacts so many things, including our mood. Going for a walk in nature allows your lymphatic system to get moving, helping your body eliminate toxins. And getting some good old vitamin G – the greenery of trees and grass – can help you appreciate the world at large. It helps you get grounded and realize that sometimes, some problems aren’t so big after all. If you work in an office and need to get outside, simply walk around your building or the block. Again, 5-10 minutes is sometimes all you need!
Cook Something. There is something therapeutic about creating a homemade meal with your hands. You get to touch the real food ingredients going into the dish and experience all the sights, smells, and sounds. It’s a time to zone out, follow a recipe (or go rogue), and really appreciate the goodness that food has to offer. And the best part? You get to eat what you made when it’s done! Cooking should be an enjoyable experience, so choose the best part of your day or week to do so--i.e., not when you're pressed for time or your family is starving. This might mean a batch-cook on Sunday afternoons before the busy-ness of the week. But if you enjoy it, you’ll start to look forward to it as me-time.
Write. Not everyone is a writer or journaller, I know. But the act of writing actually helps to calm us down. And you don’t need to have a journal or anything with you. You can write on anything – scrap pieces of paper, receipt, or even the note app in your phone if you have nothing else. Write down what you’re worried about today, why you’re stressed, or what you’re grateful for. Or just write what’s on your mind. If you’re stressed or worried, you’ll be amazing at how much lighter you feel after having written the words down on paper. And if you’re not stressed or worried and just want to enjoy your day, it’s a great time to reflect and focus on the good things in life.
Treat Yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or a great day… treating yourself is important once in a while. This means something different for everyone. It could mean stopping by the florist on your way home from work to get a fresh, beautiful bouquet for your home to liven up a room. It could mean indulging in your favourite chocolate or baked good. It could mean taking a bath or going for a massage. Whatever it means to you, try to do this once a week. Treat yourself in different ways and be happy with your choice. It means so much when we are good to ourselves.
Unplug. Sometimes, taking me-time means turning the rest of the world off. This means your computer, television, phone, iPod, tablet—anything electronic. Treat yourself to an electronic detox. Getting your mind and eyes away from these screens that are constantly bombarding us has SO many benefits. Odds are, if you’re doing one of the other tips on this list, you’re already away from your electronics—but if you need a detox in the middle of the day, just turn everything off and enjoy the silence for a while.
Connect With Your Pet. Spending time with our animals helps calm and relax our nervous systems. There’s a reason why some animals are involved in therapy purposes! Snuggle up with your cat or go for a walk with your dog or play a game of fetch. If you don’t have an animal, call up a friend who does. Sometimes all of the worries of the day seem to melt away when you’re enjoying the company of your favourite fur-baby.
Schedule It. This might seem a bit counter-productive… but sometimes it’s necessary. If you are always on the go and need a reminder to stop and take a break, put that reminder in your phone or email. Schedule your “me-time” breaks like appointments throughout your day, and stick to them like meetings you wouldn’t miss. Want a longer me-time break? Why not schedule a whole weekend away to pamper yourself or do an electronic detox?
These 9 tips will help you squeeze me-time into even the busiest of days. Sometimes it’s all about perspective: you might already do a lot of these things already, but not think of them as “me-time”. For example, instead of feeling like you have to cook dinner, get the ingredients fresh and look at it as a privilege to make your favourite meal from scratch. Whatever it takes, squeeze that me-time in for a world of benefits!