I hear “authorities” talking about ‘me time.’ You know, “you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of you.” “You have to have ‘me time’ to be and do your best.”
And it always seems like they’re talking about things that take an hour or two – lit candles,
incense, a hot bubble bath.
I used to imagine myself taking those ‘me time’ suggestions.
And then I’d have a sick kid. Or there was a problem at work and I had to go back. Or the refrigerator stopped working. Or the cat died.
Or…Or…Or … you fill in the blanks.
There was always something.
I recommend those lovely bath time scenes too, if you can do it. But I also understand that those sorts of ‘me times’ may simply not be possible.
Now it’s true that you need to take care of yourself. You have to have some down time without everybody else’s needs pressing on you.
But maybe you can’t spend lots of time doing it. So when you can’t take an hour or two just for you, I recommend grabbing ‘me time moments’ instead.
Sometimes doing anything at all other than putting one foot in front of the other seems like more than we can handle. You get out of bed to do what you have to do, but the day and the responsibilities look endless.
Everybody needs something from you. And that ‘me’ time isn’t anywhere in sight.
Then steal time at every opportunity. Kids need breakfast? Get it on the table – or the floor if they want to eat there. Step over to a wall, close your eyes – they’ll be fine without seeing your baby-blues for a couple of minutes, and breathe.
Face the wall and do some standing push ups. Stand on your tiptoes to do it. It stretches muscles throughout your body. Do this for a full sixty seconds – one minute of ‘me’ time.
One day at a time…
That’s what they tell you in AA. In their case, they’re telling people not to look down the road and promise to never drink again as long as they live.
Instead, they say just promise this morning that you won’t drink today. Then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
And I’m saying that the ‘me’ time everybody is so sure you can find even when you can’t find time to think can happen one minute at a time.
I’m going to give you some other examples of the ‘me-time’ moments you can grab wherever you are.
Obviously I’m not going to come up with a plan for every possible instance you can think of. But I can give you some examples of other ‘me-time moments.’ And maybe this can get you thinking of others.
Tense all of your muscles as hard as you possibly can.
Then do it harder.
If your face isn’t all twisted up and you’re not gritting your teeth you aren’t doing it right.
If you’re still able to take breaths, you’re not doing it right.
Your hands should be fists.
Your butt should feel tight.
And once every muscle in your whole body is as tight as you can make them – hold it.
Hold that pose. Keep those muscles tight, tight, tighter - until you can’t stand it anymore.
Then relax everything.
If you’ve done it right you feel kind of like a dishrag. Loose and limp.
And now you just took another couple of minutes of ‘me’ time.
Grabbing some ‘me-time’ moments
You’re at work, in a cubicle. Things are open, loud. You’re surrounded by people constantly. And feeling stressed.
Face the wall opposite your cube’s opening. You can stay seated and try the tension relaxer I described above. You don’t want anybody to see you grimacing, which is why you face the wall. But you can take two minutes to tighten every part of you as tight as you can, then relax it.
If it seems do-able, go to the restroom to a stall and try the above.
A ‘me moment.'
Sitting in the car pool line, waiting to pick up the kids. If you can get out and walk around the car as stiffly as you can, tensing all your muscles, do.
If it doesn’t seem comfortable to do that, tense your body, your legs. Grab the steering wheel in both hands and squeeze as hard as you can. Shut your eyes tight. As tight as you can.
Another ‘me-time moment.’
Me time moments add up
What I’ve just described are stress relaxers. You should try one when you don’t absolutely have to have it so you can see how effective these things can be.
Having’ ‘me-time moments’ is really about getting the tension out as much as you can.
Some people tell me they don’t remember to grab a minute or two to relax. They don’t think about it when things are at their worst and they could use it most.
So for these folks I say write it down. Have a note on the bathroom mirror, or under your
toothbrush or on the coffee machine or just anywhere you’ll see it every morning when you get up.
The note should remind you to take ‘me time’ every day and throughout the day.
You’re mad at your kids? They’re fighting? You want to scream? Send them to their rooms, close the door and breathe.
Do those wall pushups. Tense all your muscles. Close your eyes. Tune out the sound of their yelling, and think of a happy scene or place.
Or take a towel, fold it in half, then twist it. Grab it both of your hands and beat it on a mattress as hard as you can until you can't anymore.
Nothing and no one gets hurt and the tension will have drained out of your body.
Think happy thoughts…
I’m going to stop a little sooner than usual today because I want to explain what I mean by this. It takes practice to think happy thoughts that distract you from things that are
upsetting and stressing you out.
Next time I’m going to spend the entire time talking about creating and going to a happy place in your thoughts.
Once you’ve practiced it, you can go there in a matter of seconds to help you unwind. In the meantime, I want to leave you with these thoughts:
1. Everybody needs ‘me-time,’
but you don’t have to take it in
2. Brief moments of looking inside you and closing out the rest of the world can
make an enormous difference in how you feel and interact with the rest of the
3. Practice tensing every part of your body to the max until you can’t stand it. Then
totally relax. It’s one of the most successful stress relievers you can use anytime
4. There are other 'you can do it anywhere' stress relievers. I'll cover one great one
bath and candles by @canstockphoto inc/Geleol
wall pushups by @canstockphoto inc/comotomo
grimacing man by @canstockphoto inc/theblackrhino
dog with happy thoughts by @canstockphoto inc/denispc
writing a note by @canstockphoto inc/Happy pictures