We often hear the phrase ‘me time’, but exactly does it involve? Put simply, it’s the time a person has to themselves, where they do something purely for their own enjoyment.

Sadly, ‘me time’ is often the first thing that goes out the window when life gets busy or stressful. Many people also feel guilty about taking time for themselves and putting their own needs first, and so may not take as much time as they need.

Spending time taking care of yourself is important because it provides opportunities for self-exploration and reflection, and gives us time to rest and recharge.

Here, we’ll look at how to set aside time for yourself and why you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so – as well as ideas for how to spend that time.

What are the benefits of taking time for yourself?

What are the benefits of taking time for yourself

It can reduce stress and boosts energy levels

Taking time for yourself can help to alleviate stress and boost your energy levels. It can also improve your focus and may even increase your productivity.

It can help to curb emotional eating

When we aren’t being taken care of or taking care of ourselves, it’s easy to turn to food to make us feel better. This is referred to as emotional eating. Overeating, especially at night, is often a symptom of not enough ‘me time’.

It can set a good example to others

By taking time for yourself, you’re setting a good example to others. Practising self-care also shows that you know how to balance your needs with those around you – which might encourage others to follow suit.

It can help you be more productive

One of the common objections to setting aside time for ourselves is that we have too much to do. However, pushing ourselves beyond our limits can result in periods of nervous or exhausted activity that aren’t productive or restful.

Therefore, it’s important that we set time aside for rest as it not only helps us to recharge, it also helps us to relax.

It’s a key part of a healthy lifestyle

Once you add time for yourself to your routine, it’s important that you actually take it. Even if other responsibilities are getting in the way, try to remember that if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to help those around you – and you might even end up being the one who needs care.

Things to avoid when you want to take some time to yourself

Things to avoid when you want to take some time to yourself

Expecting to create your ‘me time’ schedule all at once

Instead of deciding that you’re going to set aside an hour or two hours every couple of days for your ‘me time’, a more manageable goal is to start small and gradually build up to your desired schedule.

For example, you could take five minutes a day for yourself and gradually build it up to 10 minutes, then 15 and so on. This way, you avoid finding reasons not to take the time, giving up altogether, or getting irritable if things don’t go to plan. As the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”

Believing you’re selfish for wanting to take ‘me time’

It‘s easy to believe that you’re being selfish for wanting to take some time for yourself, but this is absolutely not the case.

Seeing ‘me time’ as something you shouldn’t really be allowed to do can lead to a vicious cycle of sabotaging your attempts to create time for yourself, while still longing for it. Try to view ‘me-time’ as necessary, rather than a luxury that you can forgo. It’s okay to focus on yourself.

Not taking quality time for yourself

Trying to squeeze ‘me time’ into your daily schedule in places where you know it could easily be overridden will deprioritise it – and chances are, it won’t happen. The same can also be said for telling yourself that you can have time for yourself only when everything else is done, because who’s to say that there won’t be more to do after that?

When time for yourself is simply an afterthought, it’s easy to end up collapsing in front of the TV or computer in an exhausted state; too tired to do anything much at all and resenting that fact.

So, instead, try to take some time when you’re not tired to read a book, listen to some music, or head to the gym – whatever makes you happy.

This will likely mean blocking out a decent amount of time in your schedule and making sure that no one interrupts this.

Secretly sneaking in your ‘me-time’

Many of us fall into the trap of choosing to take time for ourselves at moments when it won’t inconvenience anyone else, so that we don’t feel so guilty about it.

This can mean fitting it in when everyone has gone to sleep or getting up incredibly early; both of which can cut into your own rest time.

Instead, try to be open about the need to take ‘me time’, so that others understand when to give you space.

8 ways to create more ‘me time’

8 ways to create more ‘me time’

You might feel that you don’t have any time to do the things you want to do. But with a little organising, you can arrange some time for yourself. Why not try out some of the suggestions below?

1. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask family, friends, and colleagues to help you make time for yourself. You may find it hard at first, but you’ll not only have more time, you’ll also feel less resentful of others leaving everything to you.

This is especially true if you’re a carer for someone. Our article on looking after yourself when you’re caring for a relative has some information that might help you find time for you.

2. Learn to say no and set boundaries

Knowing when and how to say no can help to prevent you from becoming tired and stressed, and give you greater control over your life.

Deciding what your boundaries are will make it easier to say no. Without them, you can end up saying yes to too many things you don’t want to do, leading to resentment.

Saying no and setting boundaries will also gain you some ‘me time’.

3. Each day identify three personal action items

At the end of each day, try to think about what three personal actions you want to achieve and how you will accomplish them. These actions should feel manageable.

For example, if you’re into crochet and want to develop your skills, consider when in your day you can take 15 minutes to do some.

4. Review your tasks

Have a look at all your daily tasks and see if any can be cut back.

For example, if you wash your car every week – ask yourself whether it really needs it. If the answer is no, then perhaps it can be washed every two weeks or even once a month.

That extra time can then be used to do something you really want to do.

5. Use internet banking

Internet banking is something many take for granted, but it does benefit those who’re seeking that extra time for themselves. You can check your balance, transfer money, pay bills, and make credit card payments – all within minutes.

Many bills are paid by direct debit so you don’t have to worry about writing a cheque or logging into your account to make the payment, which can save time.

However, if you do use internet banking, it’s always best to make sure you’re doing it safely.

6. Shop online

Online shopping can free up time in your schedule too. You can buy most things online and have them delivered to your home or work.

This can be especially helpful when it comes to doing the food shopping. That is, unless you enjoy going to the shops – in which case, shopping could form some of your ‘me time’.

7. Manage your screen time

While the internet can be helpful for various things such as shopping, exercise, and staying connected; too much screen time can eat into our ‘me-time’.

This can include things like endlessly scrolling through social media feeds and constantly checking our text messages in case we miss something.

Taking note of how much time you could be wasting behind screens every week can be a helpful way to work out whether we need to cut down and get some time back.

Screen fatigue is also very real so if you’ve been feeling run down lately, it’s worth considering whether your screen time could be draining your energy. You can find out more about this in our article; 8 tips for coping with screen fatigue.

8. Organise your home and set up routines

It’s worth taking some time to declutter and organise your home so that you avoid spending time searching for misplaced items. Decluttering can also make your home easier to clean and maintain.

Creating some time-efficient routines can help with maintaining your home too – for example, meal planning. If you can, set aside some time to plan your meals for the week, and/or do some batch cooking.

Another idea is to set up a routine to clean your house by dividing it into daily, weekly, monthly chores – and ones you do at certain times of the year. This way, you’ll know exactly what needs doing and when, and can put it out of your mind until that time. For example, you might want to do your laundry on a Saturday morning.

Routines can also be applied to things like gardening and car maintenance. For ideas on what needs to be done at different times of the year in your garden, our home and garden section has lots of useful information.

‘Me time’ activity ideas to get you inspired

‘Me time’ activity ideas to get you inspired

After you’ve organised your schedule to set aside some time for yourself, there are plenty of activities you might like to do.

For example…

  • Recharge your batteries by getting some extra sleep
  • Play a board game or game of cards – or do a jigsaw
  • Take some time to do nothing but sit and relax
  • Learn to cook something new
  • Explore your local neighbourhood
  • Phone or meet up with family and friends
  • Write a list of your goals (whether monthly or longer term) that you’d like to achieve and what you can do to achieve them

And finally...

Try to remember that taking time for yourself is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it

If you’re struggling to find your ‘me time’, then it can help to set up some routines, ask for help when you need it, and learn to say no and determine your boundaries. This way you’ll hopefully have more time to do the things you want to do, and be much happier for it.