Being busy has become somewhat of a badge of honour in our society. It seems that how busy we are is a direct indicator of how accomplished or successful we are. But, the reality is that failure to set aside time to rest, to recuperate our energy and to assess our situations can actually be more detrimental than pressing pause and taking some time out. The benefits of taking time out to look after ourselves can be easily overlooked.
Making Time for Ourselves
Setting aside time for ourselves can feel like an impossible task at times. For many people, it can also feel like a selfish or luxurious thing to do, a special treat that they simply can’t afford to have. But making time for ourselves offers numerous benefits, not only in terms of our mental health, but also in terms of our ability to function more efficiently, improve our focus and determination and support us in making changes to our habits or routines so that we can make better use of our time. Or rather, we can make time work better for us.
Making time for ourselves is about consciously choosing to set aside some time to focus on those things which we enjoy doing. These may take on numerous forms. It may be setting aside time to engage in embodied practices, such as somatic movement, yoga or martial arts. It may be setting aside time to read a book or do some artwork. Time for ourselves might also involve doing nothing at all, simply allowing ourselves to indulge in a period of complete surrender and relaxation. It might be time to meditate or to dance around.
The important factor is that it’s time dedicated to doing things which fuel our selves. Activities which allow us to disconnect from the pressures of daily life and responsibilities and take some much needed time to pause.
How long you set aside is entirely dependent on personal circumstances and contexts. Ten minutes a day may be all you can do, or maybe only even 20 minutes a week. It might be that you can take a whole morning or day to yourself. If you’re very lucky, you may even have the possibility to take a short break or mini holiday all to yourself.
The Importance of Setting Regular Time Aside
There is great value in learning how to set aside regular time for yourself. Even as short as 5-10 minutes per day can make a big difference to your wellbeing. Learning to carve out short amounts of daily time takes discipline and, like any habit, time to develop and integrate into current patterns of behaviour and routine.
The benefits of setting regular time aside for yourself, however, are numerous. Firstly, it gives you something to look forward to or aim towards each day. It also allows you to take a much needed mental pause. In those short rests, your mind has the opportunity to rest and your unconscious can process ideas and challenges that you may have had throughout the course of the day. Very often, emerging from such moments of ‘pause’ will provide you with the necessary clarity to find the solutions to problems you may have been mulling over earlier on.
Making time for yourself also gives you a chance to reset. It’s an opportunity to consider your mood and frame of mind and to engage in a pleasurable activity that can help put you in a more positive mindset. Finally, engaging in something that you enjoy will allow you to return to your daily tasks more refreshed and with better focus. The short pause provides you with the chance to re-energise and confront the rest of the day with renewed vigour and focus.
When Longer Pauses Are Needed
There are times however, where we all need to carve out longer periods of time. For many people, these take shape in the form of holidays. Most often, these are summer holidays, times during which we can enjoy the warmth of the sun and when many people try to visit a different place.
There is much value in taking a longer pause and making time to actively stop. A change of scenery can be particularly beneficial in that it helps to break habitual routines and forces us to step away from the mundane (if necessary) daily tasks that can invade our free time. Moreover, a different location can help us to see things from a new perspective. When we return to our daily lives and homes, we approach them with a refreshed outlook, making it possible for us to see alternative practices, habits and routines, that we may have been unable to see before.
Taking a pause from the known and stepping away from it for a period of time allows us to have the space, both physical and mental, to think about our circumstances and those aspects of our lives that we would like to improve or change. It also provides us with the opportunity to assess our lives and habits and to re-evaluate them, giving us the opportunity to put new mechanisms in place to support us to live more joyfully.
With the summer season upon us, we invite you to join us in trying to make some time for ourselves.
Start small, with whatever amount of time is feasible for you. Make a commitment to set aside that time and plan what you would like to do in it. This can change each day, depending on your needs and your mood. Treat it like an appointment that needs to be kept. After all, it is a meeting with yourself and one which will prove valuable to you and your wellbeing so it’s important to attend it.
If you’re able to take a longer pause or holiday, try to set aside some time to engage in self-reflection. What aspects of your life would you like to alter? How might you go about achieving this? Give yourself permission to sit with your reflections and to trust that you will find solutions, without forcing yourself to find them. Allow yourself to remain open and flexible, adapting your plans as you re-evaluate.
As always, we hope you share this article with others who you think might benefit and connect with us via our Facebook page or in the comments below.