What Is ‘Me Time’ And How Does It Improve Your Mental Health?

Illustration Source: The Mix

By Wasim Kakroo

“INTELLIGENT living simply means recognizing the perishable nature of Life and choosing not to postpone happiness. It means focusing only on what matters most to you, on what you love doing. A simple beginning can be made by investing in your “Me Time”, in one hour on yourself daily – start with your health and with what you are deeply passionate about, what makes you come alive! When you do create that one hour for yourself, you will, magically, see how you gain control of the remaining 23 hours of the day!”― AVIS Viswanathan

Do you ever feel like there is never a moment of peace in your life?

Are your family, your friends, your partner, and your coworkers, all constantly demanding your time and attention?
You’re not alone, so don’t worry.

The demands of modern life—doing business, having a job, taking care of a family, and engaging in social obligations—can be too much to handle. Whatever your lifestyle requires, you must watch out for burnout.

We frequently put everyone else’s demands ahead of our own because we don’t want to appear selfish or feel guilty, but this approach is unhealthy.

It’s crucial to give yourself some “me time”; otherwise it seems practically difficult to schedule time for ourselves in a constantly buzzing society. There are numerous excuses for delaying “me time” until tomorrow, but when tomorrow finally comes, the situation is still the same. The key to practising self-care and being your best self is understanding why, how, and when to have a “me time”.

Signs that you need some “me time”:

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the indications that you might benefit from spending time alone. Few signs, among others include:

• having a bad mood

• readily getting annoyed by sometimes insignificant things

• getting easily bored in social interactions

• a feeling of being overwhelmed or overstimulated

• having difficulties in focusing.

• feeling uneasy and anxious in social situations

The good news is that some “me time” can have a big rejuvenating effect even if you are battling with any of the above mentioned signs. According to one study, those who claimed to spend 11% or less of their time alone felt less stressed out during subsequent challenging social situations.

Why is “me time” beneficial?

1. Reduce tension and relax

If you don’t make “me” time a priority, you’ll feel more drained, frazzled, and rushed. Being under constant strain will make you more stressed out and lead to burnout. Take a break to relax, get your energy back, and reduce your stress levels.

2. Reset your brain to increase your productivity

Having a never-ending to-do list and working nonstop is unhealthy. The human brain was not designed to maintain focus for long periods of time. If you want to remain productive, you must take frequent breaks. You’ll feel refreshed and be able to get back on track if you engage in fun activities during such breaks.

3. Increase focus and facilitate problem-solving

If you’ve been trying to concentrate on finishing a task or resolving a problem but you don’t seem to be making any progress, take a break. Your brain won’t be under as much stress if you are engaged in activities you enjoy. When you don’t try to force the answer, you’ll frequently discover that it just comes to you.

4. Spend time reflecting upon and understanding yourself better.

Every so often, we need to pause and assess where we are. What matters most to us? What are our guiding principles? What are we aiming for? On occasions, we can become so preoccupied with daily activities that we lose sight of our values and our identity. We risk feeling unsatisfied and unhappy if we don’t match our activities with our values.

5. Strengthen your relationships

Making your needs a priority shows others that you value your own needs. Others may start to take advantage of you if you don’t respect yourself. People will value you if you value yourself.

You will feel more energised, healthier, and happier after spending time with yourself, which will improve your ability to care for and support the people you value.

6. Better balancing of work and life

It is easier to achieve a better work-life balance when you are aware of how important taking care of yourself is. Instead of taking on every work, issue, or chore that comes your way, you learn to say “no” and walk away. This makes it possible for you to better handle the crucial aspects of your lives.

7. Increased wellbeing

We feel better when we are engaged in the activities we enjoy. Happier feelings increase our optimism, well-being, and sense of fulfillment. Making time for enjoyment, relaxation, or self-care enhances our wellbeing and sense of self worth.

What should our “Me Time” Involve?

1. Decide on a time

Consider the best time for you to be by yourself. Make sure others are aware that they shouldn’t interrupt you during that time by adding that time to your schedule.

2. Mindful breathing

When you only have a few minutes, concentrating on your breath is a potent technique to restore your mind-body connection. Your body can turn off any stress that has been unconsciously triggered by consciously taking deep breaths in and out. This switches your body and mind back to “rest and digest” mode from “flight or fight.”
Pay attention to various areas of your body as you breathe in and out. This heals your spirit and the link between your mind and body.

In fact, starting a regular meditation practice will provide beneficial long-term effects like improved memory and concentration.

3. Disconnect from social media

Eliminate any sources of distraction, especially those that encourage social comparisons, such as social media. Instead of concentrating on what other people are doing, you should think about focus more on your own thoughts and pursue your own interests.

Disable all of your phone’s notifications, and make sure someone knows how to contact you in case of emergency. Then, unwind. Use this time to indulge in a sleep or some journaling, concentrating solely on that activity while keeping a positive self-image.

Pick up a real book (not one on a device), worthy to read. Feel it in your hands, and note how it was made. Take note of the book’s pages, weight, type and size of fonts, and binding and then drown yourself in its content.

4. Get Innovative

Many people hold jobs that do not allow room for creativity, whether because of business policies, safety concerns, or legal requirements. Therefore, one excellent approach to spend your “me time” is to indulge in hobbies that you may not have engaged in since you were a child. It includes activities such as creating crafts, playing a musical instrument, having hands on pottery or painting.

You can decide to enroll yourself in an online course to learn a new hobby.

5. Invest in better personal care

Try to dedicate two hours to taking care of yourself. Take a bath and indulge in aromatherapy products to create a spa like experience at home. Take long, deep breaths and picture any tensions or negativity you may be holding onto being washed away by the warm water while you enjoy the environment you have created.

Everyone has a different need for “me time”, thus there is no ideal quantity. Identify some activities you could enjoy performing alone, then begin to practise. Try finding a balance between “me time” and social time that suits your particular needs. Some people might only need a few minutes every now and then to lift their spirits, while others might need longer periods of “me time”.

  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196

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