Finding Time For You

Finding spaces within your work schedule, relationship, children and just life in general can often feel impossible, but I tend to believe it’s more a matter of noticing and ceasing small opportunities to breathe in and out. Finding time for you looks so unique to everyone, and obviously there is not a ‘one size fits all’ way of achieving it. Depending on your circumstances, it will look so diverse and will be constantly going through changes and seasons. I do know one thing for sure though: finding time for you to do things that bring you joy, and peace exponentially impact your mental health for the better.

Taking time out for you is not always going to look the same. Depending on what you have going on, whether you’re a newly full time worker, studying and working, living with housemates, being a mum of young or old ones, living with your own parents, it’s going to look different. I think it’s been important for me to not grow bitter in busier seasons about my previous me time allotment. For example, me time now looks a lot different to what it did 3 years ago, but that’s okay. Sometimes me time is simply the drive home from work, or just sitting with a cup coffee without mindlessly scrolling my socials. Noticing the small pleasures is as important as the big ones. They key is being creative and efficient with the time we have, and not get caught up with how little we have of it. If you keep even the small occasions for you time consistent, you won’t feel the strain of not having it.

One strategy my husband and I use is something we’ve coined as ‘solo date’. We both enjoy the company of others, but we also really love our own personal space. On weeks we are feeling particularly tired or rundown, we give each other either brekky or lunch out. A meal to enjoy by ourselves at a cafe. We usually tag team it so we still have a family day completely together, so for example on Saturday Josh might go out for brekky and then once he is home, I’ll take myself out for lunch. We each instantly feel fresher and are better parents and partners!

Sometimes we just can’t make the mothers group play date, or the coffee date after work, or even just a casual catch up with a friend or family member. Prioritizing your own mental health to avoid becoming over busy, over committed and overwhelmed is something to be unapologetic about and you actually don’t need a reason for saying no. Some people need more space that others, and we need to stop glorifying busy and glorifying being yes men/women. Saying no to things that jeopardize our sense of peace or calm is always the right move and if you’re questioned, that’s got nothing to do with you.

On the other hand, if you are someone who thrives on people, making time to enjoy others will be important for your mental health no matter where you’re at in life. Be creative with times of day that work and are easy to squeeze in catch ups. If you don’t begin work until 9, you could meet friends for an early brekky, or if you are a parent, you might go out for dessert with friends once the kiddies are down. Make time for it if it’s important to you even if it does mean a little more forward planning.

Just because every man and his dog on Instagram is using me time to meditate, journal or run marathons, doesn’t mean you have to. Just do what you feel like doing! It may be eating a donut in a cafe alone so you don’t have to share with your toddler (me), or it may be binging a show during nap time and ignoring chores (also me). Remember that social media is made up of a lot of marketing and people trying sell things, so just because your me time doesn’t appear fashionable or insta worthy doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful. Your you time should end with you feeling lighter, fresher, and satisfied, so if you are feeling these things, it’s a success no matter how you achieved it.

All of this can sound great in theory, but you may be left still pondering how this could work for you. I’ve put together some bullet point practical tips to help you find spaces to enjoy yourself unapologetically below:

– communicate clearly your needs to your partner (if applicable). I think this is doubly important of you are a parent. Me time can be a bit simpler when kids aren’t in the picture but if you partner doesn’t know you’re struggling, he or she can’t do anything to help you. Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader, and it’s not their responsibility to pick up on your implicit hints that you are done in or in need of a break. Be open and clear before it comes out in an argument.

– Use a weekly planner or a calendar to plan times for yourself. Some weeks, (especially at the moment leading up to Christmas) the only times in the day you may have free are between 8:30-9:30pm. Use the time wisely! Take the bath, do the face mask, pop to Kmart for a chaotic stroll to the beat of Mariah Carey, or read a few chapters of the book.

– Breathe and accept that your me time will ebb and flow, constantly. Don’t set expectations but instead set boundaries. Sometimes of a weekend we like to socially ‘blackout’ from others just to enjoy time to ourselves. Boundaries are healthy and necessary.

– Watch for signs of burnout closely. Feeing snappy, impatient, easily triggered, restless or upset but unsure why? Your body is probably screaming for a rest. Listen to it and start planning when you are going to sharpie in some me time to the calendar.

I really hope this helps you as we enter our festive season. You are important and there is always time in the week to prioritize yourself, no matter what your age or what season you are walking through.