4 Ways To Tell If You Need More Me Time Immediately, and How To Get It
This last week, I lost my temper and yelled at my daughter in the kitchen, while I was in the middle of making dinner. I don't now remember what I was yelling about, or in what way she was digging her heels in that set off my frustration. If you have children, I expect you are familiar with dinner-hour arguing and how maddening it can be.
What I remember is my feeling of I have had enough. I corralled every resource I had to stop myself, turn off the stove, and calmly say, "I am going outside for a few minutes. Do not follow me."
I sat on the front porch watching the sun set and listening to the birds, and thought about other times I had hit my limit and felt for the common denominator.
I was exhausted. Work had been intense all week, so I was squeezing tasks into every margin. I had not made time to be creative. For me, that is what Me Time looks like: a few rows of knitting, some time with my art journal, a walk with my camera.
I hadn't had any Me Time in more days than I could easily count. No wonder I cracked.
Rest is so important to our emotional, as well as physical well-being. You probably know this already: Chronic stress increases the risk of all kinds of mental and physical health conditions.
So why do we put it off? Why do we put ourselves last, and feel guilty when we "sneak off" to take care of ourselves?
Recently I had a full weekend afternoon when my daughter at a playdate. I dropped her off and rushed home, feeling slightly guilty about my glee, and full of ideas for all the things I could do with my free time. But first, I cleaned up the dishes and started the laundry. And then, while I pondered if I really wanted to start a new knitting project or read a book, I answered a few emails. Then I found myself on Facebook. Before I knew it, it was almost time to pick her up, and I hadn't actually done any of the stuff I had intended and wanted to do! Then I felt guilty about wasting my time, and I was still tired. Lose-lose. And lose some more!
When we get caught up in the pressure (whether it is internal or external) to do do do and never allow ourselves to rest, celebrate, have fun, or even just reflect, we will eventually hit a brick wall. We need to experience life, not just to-do list ourselves through it.
When you create more Me Time gaps in your schedule, you will get your other tasks done with more focus and joy than if you are pushing through while depleted.
If I had actually rested in those playdate hours, instead of doing chores and work, I would have been a much better equipped mama than I ended up being for the rest of the evening.
Taking more Me Time - whatever feels like leisure and rest to you - will also give you the opportunity to check your internal stuff: Process things that have happened, get centered, and re-connect with your values and goals.
4 signs you need more Me Time
Everyone is irritating you
Everyone gets annoyed sometimes, but if you are feeling constantly irritated, you need to check out and be alone with yourself for a while. A regular feeling of frustration or irritation with no direct source tells you that you are in overload. You need to stop and re-focus yourself.
You are losing it with your family
In the dinner-hour example I shared above, while my daughter was probably pushing my buttons, my reaction was WAY over the top. Huge emotional responses to being triggered, even just snapping at your family members for their annoying (but perfectly normal) habits are both signs that you have reached your limit and need to recharge. Your patience is nonexistent when you are tapped out.
You are feeling really jealous of others
This has always been a big tell for me. When I notice that I'm feeling really envious or jealous of someone else's life, I know I need to stop and spend some Me Time to check in with myself, my values, and where I'm putting my time and my energy. You have all the power to create the life you want. So if you are looking over the fence at someone else's life and thinking, "I want that," you need to spend some time getting clear about what you want in your own life and how to create it.
You are getting sick at really inconvenient times
You come down with a cold right before a big deadline. Maybe you get the flu the day before you are leaving on a big trip. Yeah, we all get sick (especially when we live with little people), but if the timing of your illnesses seems incredibly inconvenient, this may be a signal that you need more rest than you are allowing yourself. Your body is wise and will communicate to you what it needs. But if you are not listening, it will take matters into your own hands. If you need rest, it will make sure you get it. And if you still don't pay attention, you risk getting sick in more and more catastrophic ways.
Do you recognize yourself here? Which of these is your biggest indicator of needing more Me Time? Make more time for you - here's how.
How to get more Me Time into your life
Make it stupid simple
In a quiet moment, make a list of the things you enjoy doing and that fill you up. When you have a sliver of time, pull out your list and pick something. Or if you have room, make a spot in your house that is your Me Time nook. It doesn’t have to take up much space or be fancy. It can be the shelf where you keep your book, some bags of your favorite tea, and a mug. It can be a tiny set of watercolors and a journal that you can grab on the way out the door. It can be the knitting basket next to your favorite chair. Make it so easy for yourself to go straight to what you know fills you up, so you don’t get distracted and use that time for something else!
The most effective way to make sure you have enough time for you in your schedule is to actually put it on your calendar. In fact, put in on your calendar first, and then fit everything else in around it. My weekly schedule gets fit around my dance and yoga classes, and my weekend to-do list regularly includes items like "read a book" and "go for a walk." I know myself and my tendency to do do do, and I know that if I don't see that reminder to rest every time I check my list, then I will likely not make time for it. And then I will end the weekend as tired as I began it!
Make it a habit
Scheduling more Me Time into your life needs to be a habit. Don't wait until you are over wrought and yelling at your kids before you set aside time for you. Think of it as preventative medicine, like flossing your teeth or getting your daily 30 minutes of movement. If you pay attention to scheduling time for you into your calendar for a few weeks it will become habitual.
Collect evidence of its value
If this is still feeling really selfish and impossible to you, here's a practice you can try. Collect evidence. Notice how you feel and act on a day when you have not set aside any time for yourself. Do you feel tense? Irritable? How are you interacting with people? How is your attitude about your work? Do tasks challenges feel surmountable, or like major setbacks? What is your internal chatter sounding like?
Now pay attention on a day when you take some time that is just for you. How are you different? Are you more patient? More calm? More curious? Do you laugh more easily? Is your inner critic quieter?
This is a practice I give my coaching clients and they tell me that the person they are when they do more self-care is the person they enjoy being. They feel they are better parents, more efficient and effective at their work, and more comfortable in their own skin. But don't take their word for it - try it yourself!
What is happening in your life that is telling you to schedule more Me Time as soon as possible? How will you do it?