It wasn’t until I started to simplify my life and doing more things alone, that I realised the power of regular solitude. Giving your self a well-deserved break can make a world of difference, but it is a real challenge to allow our selves to slow down.
Why is it so difficult to make time for our selves? It seems so much easier to invest all our time and effort into our friends and family, even our pets, and forget about our selves. Even during these times spent in quarantine or lockdown we seem too busy and stress oriented. Constantly being busy seems to be normalized and even praised in our society.
Most of us actually do have spare time left in our daily lives for relaxation, but it’s almost inevitable to feel somewhat guilty when we even dare to think of “doing nothing”. When we find this spare time in our schedule we often immediately fill it with chores, without a moment to reflect on what we actually really need. And when we have a moment to sit down we’ll reach for our phones or the TV remote.
So how can we break this cycle and take the time we need to fully recharge? It seems almost impossible to do nothing without feeling guilty. But luckily, like me, you can learn to do so!
Why it’s so important to insist on time alone
Some people need more time alone than others, but it would be a very healthy habit for any person to carve out time for solitude.
If we are constantly focused on external distractions, we won’t give ourselves the time we need for inner growth and to let go of the stress that has accumulated in our system during the day. There are many reasons why a little solitude is good for human beings. We become more creative, more resilient, we learn to see more clearly, and we feel more grounded during the remainder of the day.
Moments for our selves are like vacations for the soul. We know how to replenish our physical bodies, but easily forget about our mental and emotional bodies.
Five ways you can start making more time for yourself.
Everybody is different, so we all need something different when we take time for ourselves. Try to find out what works for you, but also consider these five tips that can help you make yourself a priority more often.
1. Turn off any potential distractions
Turn off your phone, tablet, laptop and TV! Nothing will change in the external world and there’s a very slim chance you are missing anything extremely important while taking this time for yourself. Let your loved ones know you are ‘recharging your own batteries’, so you can be a better partner, parent and friend.
2. Be clear about your needs
Don’t feel disappointed and don’t wait for other people to understand what you want or need when you say “i need some time for myself”. Stand firm that this time is for you, and only you. And in this time you can do whatever you want to do! Do some yoga to nourish your body and mind, or try to meditate if you’re in need of silence. But you can dance, read, cook a healthy meal or take a walk in nature by yourself, if that’s what you need. Or maybe you realise that you’re quite tired and just want to take a nap. Change your inner script from ‘I’m being selfish’ to ‘I deserve this’.
3. Schedule a timeslot on your calendar
Set a time and day when you will take time for yourself and treat it with high importance. Schedule time for yourself during the same time every day or every week, whichever fits your agenda. And understand that sometimes you have to make the time for this. Remember your real priorities. Try to make your ‘me-time’ a routine, so it can become a solid habit!
4. Give yourself permission
If you easily feel guilty about taking time for yourself when you really need it, then this one is an important step for you.
It is OK to leave that pile of laundry for tomorrow, it’s not going anywhere. Become aware of what’s going on in your head when you feel this urge to do ‘something’ all the time. This is the only way to learn to deal with the guilt, heal this mindset and learn to really relax. Journaling is a very powerful way to reflect and come to understand this process. Explore your guilt! Ask yourself why you feel guilty for taking care of yourself, and leave that guilt on paper.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
If you’re like me, you probably hate asking for help. And we’re not alone, because most people do. But we all need help sometimes. Ask your partner, friends and family for help, and accept support when they offer you the help you need. You would probably do the same for them, right? If you can’t find the help you need, it’s a good investment to pay for it. Hire a babysitter, someone to clean the house or invest in a Virtual Assistant. The time that you create and invest in yourself will make you more productive and happier in the long run.
As you can see, there are ways to practice doing nothing!
Don’t make it too complicated, because if making time to unwind becomes just another long list of ‘to-do’s’ or ‘how to’s’, then you’re right back where you started, still buried in busyness. Just play with the ideas of doing the things you love to do and the feeling of relaxation and starting the next day fully recharged! And remember that by taking care of yourself first, you’ll have more energy and attention for the people you love.