I know you’ve heard that plenty of times. I have too. It’s easy to get desensitized to it, especially when you see it on the cover of supermarket magazines, in the self-help section of the bookstore, on daytime TV, in commercials, scenes in movies…the list goes on and on. I always thought that the constant reminders were a bit hokey, or for people that didn’t need to worry about holding down full time jobs. (It does seem that the “me time” mantra is aimed primarily at mothers, though stress relief for the career woman comes up from time to time. In that case, the woman in question is always an executive that can leave the office whenever she pleases.) In other words, “Me Time” was for people with spare time – and I have precious little of that. Did I really need to devote any spare seconds to sitting around with candles and repeating affirmations?
Well, yes and no. I did need “me time” – more than I knew, actually – but not in the way so often depicted in the media. As I’ve recently discovered, what brings me back to center can often be found for cheap, or even for free. Everyone is different, so these tips might not work for you. And that’s totally okay. In the end, it’s about seeking out what calms you down and makes you happy.
Go for a walk: I have two kinds of walks. The first is the hard charging, heart pumping sort that involves my iPod and some loud, energetic music. This is the kind of walk I use to lose weight (more on that in subsequent articles) and get fit. However, I don’t consider it “me time”. Why? Because I’m not focusing on myself or the world around me. This is a time to think about my day, get ideas for articles or fiction, fret about my figure and so on. The inner me is not present at this time.
Instead, my “me time” walks are the ones that are slower and sans music, where I concentrate on deep breathing and observing the natural world. I look at flowers, listen for squirrels and try my best to just be. It doesn’t always work, but I’m getting better at it. When you slow down and observe, your mind naturally quiets down – and where your mind goes, your body follows. That can be more relaxing than just about anything else.
Crochet: Or knit, cook, build something or otherwise engage in a hobby. Crochet works for me because the repitition helps to clear my mind. It’s really not about a particular activity, however – it’s far more about immersing yourself in something until you lose yourself in it completely.
Give yourself a massage: No, you don’t have to go to a spa for this (though I would love to get it done once I have money to spare). You’d be surprised how relaxing and effective a quick hand or foot massage can be. YouTube is a fantastic how-to resource for these exercises – try searching for “self-reflexology” to find one that works for you. I did so last night and felt better than I had all week. Give it a try!