How Much Time Should You Make For Yourself?

me timeThere’s a better-than-average chance that you have completely forgotten about “me time”. You know, the time you actually set aside for doing something you enjoy, or sitting by yourself, or treating yourself to a relaxing massage? Today’s always-connected life makes it easy to forget “me time”. There’s just stuff to do EVERYWHERE. Work stuff. School stuff. Family stuff. Car stuff. Home stuff. Medical stuff. Financial stuff. See?

Humans are hard-wired to need recharge time. That means more than just the 6-8 hours you’re actually (hopefully) sleeping each night. It means that the human brain needs periods of down-time to recharge, especially in the face of stress or strain. Just like the battery in your smartphone, most of us need at least 30 minutes each day to disconnect from deep thought and rest the brain cells. Physically we need breaks too. If you are in a high-stress job that requires lots of manual labor, at least two 30 minute breaks a day are in order, or you’ll quickly burn out.

All this works out to a warning message. Your brain and body are telling you that you should disconnect occasionally. If you don’t listen, things will go crazy and you’ll wish you remembered that downtime is as crucial for success and happiness as hard work is.

As you grab time for yourself, consider some good ways to spend it:

  1. Do absolutely nothing. That’s right. Listen to some music. Sit outside. Go in a room and doodle on a piece of paper. Do things that don’t require serious thought and things that are different than what you’re doing the rest of the day.
  2. Stomp your FOMO. Fear of missing out drives lots of people to over schedule their lives. The planet will not stop rotating on its axis if you opt out of a get-together now and then or if you turn off your phone (gasp!) while you are relaxing.
  3. Take a walk, go the gym, or do something else active. While you are physically not relaxing, your mind will wander (GOOD!) and you will give yourself time to think about things going during the more hectic times. Starting EVERY day with a quiet-time walk, for example, helps plenty of Type-A personalities cope with stress.
  4. Get a massage. Bodywork is so good for you. It calms your mind and body and removes the symptoms of stress from your tired, aching muscles. You are in a safe environment and there is a trained and certified professional there who is literally 100% dedicated to helping you get what you need out of the session, whether it’s blissful relaxation or working out those knots in your neck and shoulders. Massage time is particular useful because it requires an appointment. That means you can thoughtfully schedule, on a regular basis, to help insure you get your “me time”.

“Me time” is essential to good mental and physical health. If we don’t get enough, we become bitter bundles of discontent, waiting to implode (or explode). There is no magic number for how much alone time you need. If you’re a natural introvert, you may need more time. Extraverts have the most trouble making “me time”, but they are universally glad they do. What are you waiting for? Start looking for “me time” NOW!