With all the new stressors, changes and adjustments that the year of 2020 has brought, it can become difficult to eke out time for yourself. However, time to relax, unwind and take care of oneself can be of crucial importance to our mental, physical and emotional state. As the coronavirus pandemic has caused many of us to change our routines, re-evaluate lives and has placed undue pressure on our shoulders, ‘me-time’ probably seems all the more unattainable but is, nonetheless, important. If you are wrestling with a huge to-do list and an even bigger list of burdens, studies have actually shown that incorporating regular time for yourself daily actually makes you more productive, creative, engaged, less stressed, less anxious and happier. So, all in all, taking time out for you, will help you achieve more, but how do you make the time?
Schedule it in
If you are a stickler for a full calendar, to-do lists and scheduled time, what better a way to ensure you are taking that all-important time to yourself than to book it in? There is also something very rewarding about ticking it off of your schedule, as you work to better look after yourself. ‘Booking in time’ may make you feel less inclined to cancel and ensure that you have eked out that time for yourself rather than becoming overwhelmed and forgetting to take that time, again and again (until it never happens). Try not to cancel this time with yourself, treat it as a priority task and although at first it may be hard to stick to, after a while you will have created a strong and essential habit that will become very rewarding.
Take what you can, little and often
If you can only find 10 minutes in your day to dedicate to yourself, that’s okay. Try to take time for yourself every day as even 10 minutes will soon create a healthy and beneficial habit. Perhaps after a while you will be able to work up to increasing that time for yourself.
Chose what you do in this time wisely, try not to fill it with another task, but perhaps do something relaxing such as having a cup of tea or coffee, sit outside, run a bath, or go for a quick walk. Or do something entertaining such as listening to some music or watch part of a TV show. You could also look into doing a 10-minute meditation or Yoga practice which have been known to be of benefit to wellbeing levels. Whatever you do, ensure it is of most benefit to you and put yourself as the priority.
Sometimes we may become distracted in downtime or pick up unhealthy time-consuming practices, such as mindlessly surfing through social media. If this is what you would like to do as a break, then great, but some practices can end up making us feel more drained and stressed as we didn’t utilize our time effectively. This of course varies person to person, so think about the things that really boost your mood, or even things that you wish you did more of. If you wanted to take some time to read, try scheduling that in. If you wanted to go for a walk or for a run, do that. By setting rules inside of your down time, such as moving away from the computer, putting your phone down or setting yourself activities, it can both encourage you to continue the practice of taking time out whilst also cutting down on unnecessary decision or procrastination time, (especially if you can only afford a small window of relaxation every day). If you find that some of the activities you have chosen for your downtime aren’t relaxing or beneficial then switch it up the next day and try something different.
Prioritize yourself and reject the guilt
Instead of looking at the time with yourself as a waste, or feeling guilty for it. Look at is a necessity to ensure you are as productive as possible throughout your day and week. Giving your mind the space and time it needs to reset and unwind will keep your wellbeing levels healthy and better allow you to handle your tasks. It will also help to prevent stress, procrastination and burnout which ultimately take up more time in the long run. Not to mention, you very much deserve time for yourself. By looking at your downtime as an essential task, scheduling it in and even setting yourself rules, it shifts the focus from a frivolous and unnecessary activity that can be done whenever, to a crucial aim of your day. This shift of focus may be the re-frame you need to stick to it.
After taking regular time for yourself doing the activities that are most beneficial to you, you may find yourself reaping the benefits of renewed level of productivity and creativity, you may feel less stressed, gained a happier outlook and so on.