Taking time out to chill out and focus on yourself is necessary for your well-being, and you really don’t need to spare a lot of time to accomplish it

Life is hard. We wished for a better year after the difficulty of 2020, yet still can’t see an end to the Covid-19 pandemic nearing. People are reaching out to each other, complaining of burnout, while anxiety is at an all-time high. Sure, moments of gratitude lift our spirits, but we need a habitual routine to recharge and recover in order to live to our full potential. In other words, “me” time. 

As we creep into May, which also happens to be mental health awareness month, I felt the need to highlight the concept of self-care, which is so crucial in combating anxiety and stress. Challenges are mounting, whether their source be work, kids, family or the people closest to us. Research shows that parents of children with mental illness are at risk of developing mental health issues themselves. For anyone experiencing burnout, making space for me time is absolutely essential. 

If we know prioritising some crucial me time in our daily schedule can help increase our well-being, then why do we keep putting it off? Often, we feel we don’t deserve it, which is why we don’t make time for it, or we just feel downright guilty when we occasionally indulged in it. I felt exactly this way when my children were young, and I was starting my handbag business House of Sheens. I believed multitasking and having a work-related task occupy just about every minute of my time equated to success. 

I would pat myself on my broken back and think the world of my tired, exhausted self. I thought that was the key to success and I believed success and happiness were interlinked.

Turns out I was wrong. I can barely remember what my days even felt like, or what I was actually doing when I was working back then. I remember driving, being on the phone, eating a packed lunch—on repeat—numb to the hectic pace of everyday life. I still worked out, spent time with my family, friends and felt happy—but I don’t think that, inside, I cared for myself enough. I felt guilty if I did too much for me. 

Taking care of yourself is not selfish, and when we fail to do so and suffer from stress, we can sometimes inadvertently impact the people that we work and live with in a negative way.

The misconception is believing me time or self-care simply means indulging in pricey spa sessions and switching off from reality, kids, family and work. But me time can actually be simpler, and can go beyond the physical. For me, it means carving out a few moments in the day to rest and repair the body and soul—it’s a time to plug in and recharge myself both mentally and physically. 

(Related: How to Be Happy: 5 Ways to Find Hope in Times of Distress)

My me-time moments are now scattered through the day. Starting with my first cup of coffee, which I drink and enjoy mindfully. Practising mindfulness increases our well-being, lowers anxiety and stress, reduces pain, improves sleep, makes us less reactive, and increases focus, clarity and attention.

Other ways to dedicate time to yourself could be starting a consistent exercise routine you love, or setting aside a few minutes every day for meditation. You can boost your physical and mental well-being by simply going outdoors for a short walk, enjoying a favourite tea-time snack, or disengaging from your phone and e-mails for a few moments. You decide on the time, place and activity that feeds your soul and provides the respite you desire. 

We need to prioritise me time so it becomes a habit.

I enjoy having me time at the end of the day. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, and when we fail to do so and suffer from stress, we can sometimes inadvertently impact the people that we work and live with in a negative way. When we look after ourselves, we are better versions of ourselves. I tell my kids that if I don’t get adequate sleep and have time to myself every evening, I can’t be the best mother the next day. 

(Related: Gwyneth Paltrow on Her Beauty Philosophy, Self-Care Tips and More)

Go easy on yourself and ask yourself how you feel at the end of the day—what do you need? Sure, being whisked away to a private-island resort would be the ultimate dream, but it’s definitely not realistic. No worries, though, because we can do simple things within the confines of our homes to recharge.

When I am home, I spend time putting on a facial mask, do my nails, or use my favourite skincare devices to pamper myself for just a few minutes. I also diffuse essential oils, and read. This is my me time and it works for me.

We need to prioritise me time so it becomes a habit. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the morning, during a quick afternoon break or at the end of the day. Time is there, and you are the one who can make it happen. Here are some tips:

  • You don’t need hours—even a 10-minute break can be very effective if you can properly devote it to yourself. 
  • Be intentional about how you want to spend the time you have. 
  • Remember even if it’s just a few minutes of meditation, it can increase your well-being and level of happiness.
  • Determine what makes you happy. 

(Related: Coronavirus Tips: How To Take Care Of Your Physical And Mental Health During the Pandemic)

Shireena Shroff Manchharam is a certified life and happiness coach with her own practice, Sheens Image Consulting. Her passion is in helping individuals reach their highest potential and she is always on a mission to bring happiness to people’s lives. Her husband and two kids—Lara and Arian—and her pet dog, Bowen, are her constant source of love and happiness. 

This is the fifth in a series by Shireena Shroff Manchharam on mindfulness and gratitude.

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