The older we get, the more responsibilities we take on and the more loved ones we welcome in to our lives, the less time we have for ourselves. But personal time is crucial for overall happiness, stress management and quality connections with others.
We need to check in with ourselves regularly, to take the time to “mull everything over” and sort out any anxieties or worries bothering us. Sometimes just sitting and contemplating is all we need to put things into perspective. Personal time allows you to let everything settle and sink in so you can organize your thoughts into where they truly are, rather than what your overwhelming schedule is making you feel. By always skimming the surface of anxieties and not truly delving into them to expose the core, they can seem scarier and more threatening than what they truly are.
Personal time allows your mind to wander, imagine and dream, bringing you back to your true self and the things that make you excited. When we are constantly “on the go”, hooked into technology and dealing with a million different things at once, there’s barely any time to truly think, reflect and feel. This can create overwhelmed feelings, stress and a general feeling of being out of touch with ourselves and how we really feel, think, and want. Personal time allows us to get in touch with our younger selves and what has always made us giddy, happy and just purely joyful, like when we were children.
And ultimately, personal time allows you to reset, recharge and become more focused and attentive when spending time with those you love. It’s always important to be in touch with yourself because you are the only one who has to live inside your mind and in your life. Here are some easy, cost-effective and smart ways to increase personal time for yourself…
Getting out for a walk is one of the best ways to switch off and spend time with yourself, in the world, without a screen in front of you! Of course, for people who live in certain climates with extremes on both ends, walking outside isn’t as easy, but if you can…do it! Walking gets your body moving, air in the lungs, and generally removes you from your repetitive surroundings whether it’s the office, the house work or dare I say it…the family (as much as we love them, we all need alone time!). Studies have shown that walking actually increases creativity and mental flexibility, allowing us to dream, imagine and effectively sort out our many thoughts.
- Get up and walk during your lunch break
- Start the morning with a brisk walk outside (if you can manage it around your schedule and family, but even 10 minutes helps!)
- Set aside an hour or two in the weekend for you to talk a long, leisurely walk alone, in the most beautiful part of your city or town. Find nature or anywhere which inspires you. (If you’re a parent, let your partner know in advance so they can be prepared to look after the kids!)
- When feeling overwhelmed or stressed, stop, take a walk, and don’t make any big decisions until you get back
- Listen to music if it helps, or simply listen to the sounds of the world around you
- Let your mind wander…daydream, imagine…
Even if you’re not a wordsmith or you doubt your creative writing skills, writing can be a fantastic way to spend time with yourself and your imagination. Get yourself a big, plain notepad and a pen. Find a space on your own. Perhaps it’s in a cozy corner of your home (with a closed door!) or even a park bench outside. Write your thoughts and experiences. Write poems, stories, ideas…anything which comes to you. It’s a great way to tap into your deep thoughts and perhaps ideas which you didn’t know were lurking under the surface. Sometimes when we are bogged down in work, family and general life we can feel a little like our brains aren’t as stimulated as they once were, and writing is a great way to spend time with your creative self.
Studies have shown that expressive writing can really help with processing and dealing with stress and trauma. If you’re going through some tough times or are dealing with past events and you’re not in the mood for talking to others, get a pen, paper, set aside some personal time and allow your mind to process it through written words.
- Keep a journal and set aside 15 minutes each night before bed when you sit in a cosy place, alone, and write down the thoughts and experiences of the day
- Give yourself a project to work on. It might be a children’s story, a set of poems or even a short story. No one has to read it, but it’s just for you and you alone to work on and be engaged in your own imaginative world
- Write a letter! Get in touch with friends and family in far off places by writing a handwritten letter
Reading is a fantastic way to take some personal time. When you’ve got a book (or an e-reader) in front of you, people are far less likely to disturb you! Reading an engaging story allows you to be still, relaxed, comfortable and engaged in a world which has nothing to do with your everyday life and the strains which come with it.
When you’re partway through a book, you’re more likely to go off and read a few chapters alone than sit in front of the TV or computer mindlessly watching or scrolling.
When you need some alone time and you have a moment to spare, a simple “I’m going to read for a little while” is the perfect statement to let those around you know that you’re going off for a moment on your own and don’t wish to be joined. It’s kind of like saying, “I want to be alone for a while, please don’t disturb me”, but in a milder way which won’t ruffle any feathers.
- Get a library card and make strolling the aisles part of your personal time
- Read books which inspire and comfort you
- Ask for recommendations from friends and family so you can discuss the book with them once you’re finished (great way to combine personal time with quality time with loved ones!)
- Go to bed an hour early (if possible) to spend time alone with just you and your book
Solo movie and coffee dates
Take yourself on a date. Set aside a morning or afternoon, perhaps on a free weekend or a day off work. If you’ve got kids, organize a babysitter or get your partner to take them for a few hours. Go to the movies, sit in the cool, dark room with a treat (and perhaps a glass of wine?). Go to your favorite cafe, order your favorite drink and something to savor, and sit by yourself people watching and just being. Think about what you’re grateful for, mull over your anxieties and put them into perspective or set a game plan, and simply just relax without the pressure to talk or cater to anyone’s needs but your own.
- Set a few hours aside and make the preparations you need in order to be undisturbed and free from obligations
- Wear your favorite clothes which make you feel great
- Treat yourself!
- Relax into the indulgence and know that you deserve it
Take extra time with your night routine
Your night routine can be a wonderful way to take some personal time. A bath, a face mask, meditation, stretching, or even taking extra time to apply your night products can all give you extra time to spend alone without conversation, multi-tasking or using devices. This is especially useful if your days are extra jam-packed and you can only afford to slow down at night, before bed. Slink off half an hour earlier and take time to dim the lights, pamper yourself, wind down, sip a cup of herbal tea and savor the time alone.
- Put the phone and computer away, turn music on or dim the lights
- Make a cup of sleep-aiding tea
- Take a bath if you have one
- Take time to remove your makeup and apply serums, oils and creams
- Use a face mask
- Potter in your room and get clothes ready for tomorrow, make your bed as cosy as possible, or simply lie on the floor, stretch out and breathe
Personal time doesn’t need to involve expensive massages, beauty treatments or holidays. It can be as simple as reading a book, writing down your thoughts, going for a walk or seeing a movie by yourself. Even if you can only manage short bouts of personal time regularly, make the most of it! Even 10 minutes of solo relaxation a day will make a huge difference to your mental health, relationships and feelings of groundedness.
Never think that personal time is selfish or that you should be doing “something more productive”. Personal time is vital for you to be a great friend, family member, parent and partner as well as a happy, thriving person. Put yourself first every once in a while!