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Humans are social creatures. We evolved to want to be around each other, and even to rely on one another for survival. But, that doesn’t mean we have to be with others all of the time. The importance of Me Time isn’t discussed as much as the importance of friendship – but they are equally essential to our wellbeing. And the odds are that you’re not getting enough me time.
A survey about the everyday lives of parents conducted by meal delivery service Munchery found that the average parent has only 32 minutes to themselves a day – and even has to hide from their kids to get that. Even if you don’t have kids, you could be fighting for downtime. Research published by Pew Research shows that 60 percent of American adults can feel too busy to enjoy life. The data speaks for itself: we need to clear up more time for ourselves. Here’s a look at the benefits of Me Time, and how to get more of it.
The Benefits Of Me Time
While spending time with friends can beat stress, sometimes it’s time with yourself that you really need. Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people who understand the importance of Me Time and take it regularly experience less stress and more relaxation.
The Harvard Business Review reports that you do your best brainstorming when you’re alone. So whether you’re trying to come up with your next great business idea, plot for a script, or even solution to a problem, getting away from people could help you find the answer. We get some inspiration from others, but it’s when we’re alone that we can finally process what we’ve learned.
If you’ve found that you struggle to remember what you learned in that lecture or night class, it might be because others were around. A study conducted by Harvard found that people remember information better when they consume it by themselves, instead of being surrounded by people.
Improve Your Relationships
When you’re just focused on keeping a busy social calendar, you don’t get the chance to assess your relationships. Spending time alone gives you the opportunity to think about your friendships, and determine which ones actually bring value to your life (and which ones are just there to fill time). Plus, taking Me Time gives you the chance to recharge so you can better show up for your loved ones when you choose to socialize again.
Finding yourself alone when you didn’t want to be can feel, well, lonely. However, you can reframe how you see alone time for your benefit. The Journal of Adolescence found that, when people intentionally seek out alone time, that is associated with feelings of self-determination and overall better self-esteem.
How To Get More Me Time
Go Off The Grid
If you have a difficult time relaxing when you’re at home or in a city environment, go off the grid. Get out into nature. Take a road trip to a nearby national park, forest or lake. Take yourself camping (but stick to a site where some others will be for safety). Go to the beach alone and find a secluded area to sit and read, or just look at the ocean. Being in nature calms the mind and removes distractions of daily life. Just be sure to turn that phone off.
Turn Off Notifications
Speaking of turning off the phone, if you can’t get away on a camping or beach trip, at least unplug for a short period every day. If you can do this for hours, great, but if it’s only for 30 minutes, that’s fine, too. Silence your devices. Turn off notifications. Me Time means not giving people access to you for a while – any access. That includes screen access.
Adjust Your Wake Or Bed Time
If finding Me Time is difficult once the day is in full swing, adjust your bedtime or the time you wake up. Waking up 15 minutes earlier can give you a chance to journal, meditate or just silently sit with a cup of coffee and look outside. Likewise, getting in bed 15 minutes earlier can give you the chance to be alone with your thoughts. Shutting off that Netflix show just a bit earlier is worth it for some precious me time.
Put It In Your Calendar
You might need to schedule your Me Time. If you don’t claim a time slot for it, other things (and people) will take over your calendar. Identify a regular time on your calendar – whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – when you have nothing going on. Block that off for Me Time. Make it a real appointment in your GCal. That is not free time – that’s Me Time. Once you understand the importance of Me Time, you understand it deserves a spot in your calendar.
Go On A Solo Trip
Spend your next PTO days with nobody but yourself. Book a charming Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast in a drivable town and just get away somewhere quiet. Book a spa treatment while you’re there. See the sites. Go to a museum. Check out the art fair. Having people around, but not feeling obligated to speak to them, counts as me time.
Say No More
A lot of these tips will require saying “No” more. If you’re in the habit of saying “Yes” to every invitation and request that comes your way, put the brakes on that. Say, “Let me get back to you.” Then go through a series of questions like, “Is that relationship important to me?” “Am I doing this to people please?” “Will this drain me?” and, most importantly, “Is this competing with my time for Me Time?”