In Part I, we agreed that many of us have a hard time saying no to others, leaving little “me time” for ourselves. We also determined that too much stress can exacerbate medical problems such as high blood pressure, pain and inflammation, and headaches/migraines. It can also increase anxiety and depressive symptoms. So even though it can be difficult to take time for ourselves, it is a necessity.
The first step to finding “me time” is to prioritize our daily tasks so we can free up some time to take care of ourselves. You can find those steps here.
Now that we’ve prioritized our responsibilities and have delegated some of them, what’s next? What is “me time”? What does that look like? “Me time” varies from person to person, and this is the fun part: figuring out what you love to do and what recharges your batteries. I like to break “me time” into five categories:
- Relaxing and soothing: These activities are calming. Do you like to read? Does a warm bubble bath soothe and relax achy muscles? Can a massage work out the kinks? Have you tried deep breathing or meditation exercises? Look for relaxing activities that rejuvenate your body and mind.
- Distracting and fun: Just like it sounds, these activities are entertaining. Examples are solving word/number games, watching funny movies, putting together puzzles, and crafting (knitting, crocheting, drawing, etc.). Hobbies and interests such as these help keep your hands busy and your mind off your worries.
- Expending energy: In other words, get moving! Exercise helps lift mood and energizes the body. I know this can be difficult when you’re in pain, so do what you can and don’t overdo it. Exercise includes walking, going to a fitness class, riding a bike, or doing yoga. Anything active works to clear your mind as long as your body is in motion.
- Mastery: This means doing hobbies you’re good at. Examples would be cooking/baking, drawing, playing an instrument, knitting, etc. These kinds of activities reinforce our strengths and help raise self-esteem. Of what are you a master?
- Social: Sometimes “me time” includes being social … the enjoyable kind of social. This may be meeting your sister to get your nails painted, going bowling with a friend, or going to a movie with your spouse. Make sure it’s not overwhelming your schedule but instead is an energizing social activity.
To find your most effective “me time,” start by brainstorming a few ideas in each category and then continue to add activities. I also suggest you try something new by picking up a new hobby or interest. There’s nothing more distracting and rewarding than learning a new skill!
Whether you’re mastering an old talent or trying something new, “me time” will be more rewarding when it’s time spent doing something you enjoy. By prioritizing and enjoying some well-deserved “me time,” we can recuperate and recharge body and mind.
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andrea M. Risi, LPC, therapist in Denver, Colorado
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