Press Pause On Life – Having “Me Time” On A Budget

SUMMARY POINTS

> Me Time isn’t selfish or a luxury, it’s a necessity
> Activities can be simple and cost effective
> Prioritize Me Time and schedule it
> Become a happier, nicer and more energized person

Argh, that epic report is due today. You’re only halfway through. Up until 1am last night, eyes propped open with caffeine, trying to get it done.

*Ping* incoming message from the mother-in-law.

MIL: Can you bring side salads for dinner tonight and bread rolls. Also dessert, if it’s not too much trouble?

Like hell you can. Side salad this.

You: Sure

You finally get to your desk. Looks the same as it did when you left at 8pm last night. A total nightmare - decluttering this mess is a must-do this week.

Over 200+ unread emails. Glowing ‘urgent’ flags are burning holes in your eyeballs.

Deadlines everywhere.

Phone message from the school already….Your kid is sick and needs to be picked up.

FML.

Coffee...need more coffee.

And also chocolate. And also Valium. Chocolate infused Valium.

And maybe just 5 minutes of privacy. To breathe. And cry. And scream. And sleep. And write my resignation letter. And draft a snarky response to the cow in marketing. And punch my boss. And burn that damn report.

You just need 5 minutes of solitude. 

If work and home life overwhelm and you have burnout knocking on the door, the answer is Me Time.

Simple lifestyle changes to prioritize mental health and down-time can rescue you from your stressed out, grumpy, sleep deprived, caffeine addicted self.

You don’t need to become some Zen Master or pay for a meditation retreat in Bali, we’ll show you simple, budget friendly ways to squeeze some crucial Me Time into your packed schedule. 

Why Me Time Is So Important 

All to often Me Time gets bumped way down the list as other priorities stack up. There’s so much to do for everyone else.

It seems selfish to kick back with a cup of chamomile and a magazine while the the rest of your world is literally going ape-shit all over the place.

The thing is, Me Time is crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Some may see it as social withdrawal or that you’re being a social hermit - that's a bunch of bull. This recent study from the University of Buffalo supports the fact that “social withdrawal” or Me Time is a good thing.

Think about it.

Henry David Thoreau spent two years camping out by himself by a pond.

Van Gogh actually checked himself into a frickin’ asylum for a year.

Einstein would go sailing solo miles away from shore - and he didn’t even know how to swim!

And guess what? They all made some pretty cool shit.

Now, we’re not saying that you need to be the next great societal or cultural icon. You just need to give yourself permission to enjoy yourself on your terms and time, just like those guys did.

And, it doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be simple self-compassion quiet time.

This Harvard study shows that cultivating an attitude of self-care better equips you to handle whatever daily challenges life serves up at home or work.

So, let’s take a look at some specific reasons why Me Time needs to be a priority.

You’ll Enjoy Life And Have More To Give

When you take care of yourself, it gives you the resources and patience you need to help those around you at home and work.

In other words, take care of “you” first so that you can take care of others. That includes Jennifer in marketing who seems to ask the same damn question every time you present the weekly report.

You’ll also just generally enjoy life more. When you’re not burnt out to the brink of exhaustion, life can actually be a fun, happy place sometimes.

You’ll Have More Energy 

Energy isn’t an infinite resource, although it may feel that way when you’re on your sixth latte for the day. Energy needs to be replenished, like a bank account - when you’re running low on cash, you deposit more money to boost the balance.

The way to boost your energy balance is making time for self-care. Every break you carve out for yourself or time you unplug, adds some energy dollars back into your account. 

You’ll Generally Be A Nicer Person

Who wants to be around a snappy, moody co-worker, friend or relative? Those are the types of people you walk halfway around the office to avoid passing their desk.

Sleep deprived temper tantrums and irrational mood swings….I told you to get me the number for Phil, not Phyllis, dammit you useless no-working-waste-of-space!…. will do you no favors at work.

You’ll Stay Focused

When you’re exhausted, you’re likely to make silly mistakes, misunderstand instructions and forget all about deadlines. Exhaustion makes even the simplest task seem like an attempt to summit Everest.

What do you mean the file in the BLUE folder? I thought invoices were for the GREEN folder. I don’t understand all this nonsense about the blue folder. Why are things so complicated around this hellhole?!

When we’re taking time out for ourselves, we’ll be more rested and alert which makes getting stuff done much easier. 

How To Make Time For Yourself

That’s nice. Me time. Sounds pretty unrealistic though.

The only seconds you get to yourself are on the toilet or brushing your teeth or both.

We hear you.

When your schedule is busy AF - hello, pissing and brushing your teeth at the same time, actually finding time for yourself seems much easier said than done.

The key is to prioritize self-care way up on the list of important stuff to get done. Learn and use the Eisenhower Matrix to block out “Me Time” in your life (it’s quadrant 2 in the matrix BTW).

Here are a few ideas on how to carve out time. One of these of a combination of several should work for you.

Learn How To Say ‘No’ To Time Wasters

Do an honest audit of your schedule and how much time you’re spending on unimportant stuff that would be more valuable spent on yourself.

Instead of saying yes to every request that comes your way, say no to stuff like organizing the multi-family weekend trip or being part of the ‘recycling committee’ at work.

It’s not only about other people wasting your time (we know, it’s so much easier to blame everyone else) but you also need to cut the bullshit activities you do.

Binging on Netflix every night? Scrolling mindlessly through the social media for hours on end?

Yeah, that’s gotta be cut back, but not cut out. It’s fine every once in awhile but when it overtakes the majority of free time on a daily basis, that’s not good.

You may THINK these are breaks, a form of self-care, but it’s not the re-energizing type. 

Book It In

You schedule in life's other appointments, deadlines, activities and meetings, right? So why not schedule in time for yourself?

The smart way to do this is to keep it at a regular time slot in your daily or weekly schedule. Make it clear to family, friends and co-workers that this time on the calendar is just for you.

And, hold your ground and don’t budge on it.

Break It Up

If setting aside an hour of Me Time seems as laughable as a day without a Kardashian selfie, try breaking it up instead.

If you’d like to meditate for 30 minutes a day, put aside 10 minutes during in the morning, 10 minutes during your lunch break and 10 minutes before bed. These smaller slots of time make it more manageable and less likely to get bumped from the schedule. 

Having some form of self-care, even if it's just a little bit, makes a difference.

Use Your Commute Time

I love commuting to and from work and being stuck in traffic every day! Said no-one ever.

​We agree, the commute can suck hard. But, with a little mindset change, you can turn it into a valuable “Me Time Commute.” Listen to a motivating podcast in the morning to get you pumped for work and a fun podcast on your fav hobbies in the evening to forget a crappy day on the way home.

If you use public transport to commute, spend a little time meditating, journaling, reading or listening to outdoor nature clips with your eyes closed. Or even more simply, just allow your mind to zone-out or drift-n-wander freely about anything and everything - just don't let it focus on negativity or stressful things.

Get Up 15 Minutes Earlier

“Get Up Earlier” might be three words you’d rather not hear but the truth is, if you want to work Me Time into your day, it means making a bit of effort.

An extra 15 minutes could mean something as simple as leisurely sipping your coffee and enjoying some quiet time to yourself instead of gulping it down while rushing out the door.

Or, make your drive less time-pressed and more leisurely. A bit of traffic? No problem. The radio show or podcast you're listening to is awesome and with the extra bit of time, that slow-down isn't much of a concern so you're not stressing.

Ask For Help

Control freaks, listen up, this one’s for you.

If you insist on doing everything yourself, it’s no wonder your schedule is crammed.

Learn to delegate some simple tasks out to family or co-workers and hey presto! Tuesday evening isn’t so hectic after all. Maybe there is time for a yoga class!

Outsource Chores And Errands

Can your kids feed and dress themselves?

If so, they can certainly learn to clean up after themselves, help out with the dishes after dinner, vacuum the carpets, wipe the floors and help tidy up the house.

If they’re too young and your finances can support it, outsourcing chores can literally give you back hours of time each week.

Hire a cleaner to visit once a week and order groceries online - or a meal subscription box - for delivery. Consider paying someone to mow your lawn, to babysit the kids, to pick up/drop off the dry cleaning, etc.

You are quite literally buying more time.

For extra tips on how to take control of your time right now, check out this quick 2-minute video.

VIDEO: How To Make Time For Yourself
YOUTUBE: 
Howcast
LENGTH:
2:10

Summary points:
> Learn when to put your needs before others
> Block out "me time" in your calendar
> Stop low-value/non-essential activities
> Automate your lifestyle to create more time

Whatever method you choose to "make time" for yourself, just be sure to stick with the one that gives you the most time back consistently. Use the others to add a bit more buffer when you need it.

Simple, Budget-Friendly Ideas For Me Time

Now you know how to carve out some time for yourself, we’ve got some simple, budget-friendly Me Time activities that you can do this week to inspire you.

There’s no need to spend big bucks on a weekend spa getaway (although, that would be incredible). You can get some fantastic Me Time in for a lot less than you think.

1. Relax In The Shower

Mental Me Time is extremely important and becoming more "present and self-aware" of daily activities is a great way to nourish your mental well-being. It gives your mind a break, even just for a few minutes, from running through the overwhelming to-do list.

Becoming mindful isn’t about spending hours meditating. You can use the time in the shower to do some deep breathing exercises and be present.

Next time you're in the shower, go through a sequence that helps you to focus on the "here and now" of showering. It could be any pattern, observation, sensation etc.

In fact, many of us don't realize that we follow a particular shower routine. It's like we're on auto-pilot. It could be that you wash your hair first or that you always soap up your left arm before your right, etc. It could be anything.

The point is to recognize your pattern and/or behaviors and focus on the feelings and sensations of that specific task.

Here's one example that you can use next time you're in the shower:

> Close your eyes.
> Feel the water on your skin.
> Smell the scent of the shampoo.
> Listen to the splashing.
> Take slow deep breaths as you rinse.
> Do slow head circles.

Slooooow...down...your rushed shower routine and really enjoy the process. Think of it as not only as a way to clean yourself, but also as a way to mentally wash away all the stress.

Imagine each drop of water rinsing away your stressors and taking them down the drain.

This is your quiet time. Your time to relax and feel good. 

2. Micro-Moment Aromatherapy 

Essential oils are an incredibly effective way to boost your mood or calm your mind. Both are a form of emotional self-care.

Invest in a few high quality essential oils to calm and relax your mind in the evening or in the morning to energize the start of your day.

Some classic oils for calming include lavender, chamomile and frankincense. If it’s energy you’re after, try rosemary, peppermint or a citrus blend.

When you’re at home, you can use a mini aromatherapy diffuser with the essential oils to de-stress. When you’ve got five  minutes, just turn it on, sit beside it, close your eyes, inhale the wonderful scent and enjoy.

You can do this at work too in a more discreet way.

A roll on mini applicator with essential oil is perfect for these situations. During the workday when things are getting crazy, take one minute...really, just one measly minute, and apply a small dab of the oil under your nose and begin breathing with your eyes closed.

In an instant, you’ll begin feeling much better.

This one-minute micro-moment aromatherapy is a great way to get the benefits of essential oils at work without your workmates thinking you’ve turned into some sort of hippie.

3. Sip, Savor & Relax

Instead of chugging down your coffee or tea, slow it down - a lot.

Take slow and savory sips. Really taste it. Let it swish around your mouth before you drink it. Make this moment your little mental escape from reality.

Mini sipping sessions can be a really easy way to get some Me Time.

When all the madness of getting to work on time is behind you, ease into work rather than jumping straight into it.

Go get a cup of coffee or tea (or even better, make some cofftea) and sip it slowly as you gaze out the office window or just let your mind wander freely as you’re sitting at your desk.

The other alternative is to do the same thing at the end of the workday.

If you can, at the end of the day, on your way home, stop by a cafe for a mini sip session. It’s a great transitional pocket of time to relax for a bit between the mayhem of work and the craziness at home. 

4. Ten Minute Standing Stretch

You don’t need to head to a yoga class to reap the rewards of stretching.

Take 10 minutes for yourself each day to wake up and stretch out your muscles. This will be especially beneficial if you’re normally sitting on your ass all day in a cubicle like us.

Check out this simple stretching video, no yoga mastery needed.

If you feel weird about doing this at the office, do it at home in the morning before work or evening when you get back from the office.

VIDEO: 10 Minute Standing Yoga Sequence For The Office
YOUTUBE: 
Melany’s Yoga Couch
LENGTH:
10:08

Summary points:
> Based on yoga principals
> Simple standing stretches you can do at work
> Improves blood circulation to your joints and muscles

5. App It Up With A Guided Meditation

Make the most of technology to get your Zen on and download a guided meditation app.

Here are two of our favorites:

Calm: This app offers a range of meditations from 3 - 25 minutes. There’s also a feature called Daily Calm, a 10 minute meditation you can do in the morning or before bed. Download iPhone or Android.

Headspace: Ideal for anyone who has no idea how to meditate. Headspace is geared towards beginners. The app helps with sleep and stress reduction through guided meditations that can be done in a few minutes. Download iPhone or Android.

For those of you that get to and from work via public transit, the commute is your ideal time to get some downtime in. So, try one or both of these meditation apps on your next commute.

6. Enjoy A Simple & Nutritious Breakfast

We all know how important a good breakfast is but how often do you rush out the door cramming toast in your mouth or skipping it all together? 

Make breakfast time Me Time.

By waking up a little earlier, you’ll allow time in your schedule to prepare a nutritious breakfast and eat at a relaxed pace.

Or, if things are just too crazy at home in the mornings, have your mini breakfast at work.

The meal doesn’t have to be a complex affair either.

Some instant plain hot oatmeal sprinkled with dried cranberries, raisins or a few pinches of brown sugar can be a great little warm-up to start the day. Or, how about some fresh yogurt with sliced almonds or crunchy granola?

Whatever the simple meal, the key thing is to put any screens away and give 100% of your attention to eating and enjoying the meal. 

7. Order-in A Midweek Dinner

While we’re on the food topic, treating yourself to a home delivered meal during the week definitely counts as self-care and creates some space for a little Me Time!

After a hectic day at work, don’t put the pressure on yourself to cook, order a healthy (or not!) meal for delivery.

While you wait, chill out with some mellow tunes along with an ice-cold bottle of beer or a soothing glass of wine.

8. Soak In A Lux DIY Bath Soak

A good old soak in the tub is Me Time 101, especially if you include a few candles and get those essential oils burning.

You can turn up the relaxation dial by making this rejuvenating DIY Milk and Honey soak to add to the bath.

- Mix 2 tbsp honey and 100ml full fat milk together in a bowl.
- Warm on the stove top or in the microwave, just long enough for the honey to dissolve.
- Allow it to cool then add the mix to your bath water.

Apparently, Cleopatra bathed in milk and honey...and she was like the Queen of self-care!

9. Create A Reading Ritual 

Reading is an amazing way to escape everything going on around you for a little while. A good novel can mentally whisk you away into a totally different world.

Rather than just reading in random places, make it a special mini event for yourself.

By creating a ritual around Me Time reading, you’ll make it something to really look forward too.

Pick a designated reading spot or a comfy chair, move it to a sunny spot or nearby a window and add a throw blanket.

Stock your cookie jar with your favorite brand - or any treat you enjoy - and buy a special tea or coffee blend. Keep these treats just for reading time.

Then, when the opportunity arises, you can easily slide into your favorite spot and lose yourself in stories while sipping and snacking on your favs. 

10. Make It An Early Night

If there’s only one thing you do on this list, let it be this - get more sleep.

It’s the simplest but by far the most important form of self-care. If you’re cutting back on sleep to get everything done in a day, you’re headed straight for burnout.

Set your alarm for an early bedtime to remind yourself to wind down all the stuff you’re doing and have a soothing cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea to get your body and mind ready for a good sleep.

Use the tea time as a transitional trigger for your mind and body to begin relaxing. As you feel the onset of relaxation, brush up and crawl into bed (no sneaking peeks at your smartphone!).

With each time you do this little evening ritual, it’ll get easier and easier to fall asleep.

Putting Me Time Into Practice

Now you know where to find extra time and have a few ideas to get you started, let’s put Me Time into practice.

Let’s get a session booked now. It all starts with the first one.

Open your personal calendar for the week - really do this now.

...

Review what’s scheduled for the next 7 days.

...

Make room for yourself by dropping one time wasting commitment or handing off one non-essential task to someone else.

Schedule that time for yourself and select a self-care activity and stick with it

Boom. Done.

Don’t let other things or people take away this time. Treat this like a doctor’s appointment that can’t be rescheduled. It’s for your mental health and wellbeing.

If this activity can be done on a regularly scheduled basis, then make it a recurring session on your personal calendar. The more you can put self-care on a routine pace, the better it will be for you.

Plus, there’s less chance that it’ll get bumped from your calendar.

Bonus Me Time Tip: Create A Self-Care Kit 

We love the idea of a self-care kit to have on hand when emergency Me Time is required. It's great for those moments when there's madness all around you and you need to get away from it all asap.

It's during these moments that you don't want to figure out how to decompress quickly. You just want to start calming down now. And, having a ready-to-use self-care kit is the way to go.

Check out this video for tips on creating your own self-care kit.

VIDEO: How to create a self-care emergency kit
YOUTUBE: 
muchelleb
LENGTH:
8:42

Summary points:
> Build your own self-care kit for those really tough times
> Insert self-compassion worksheets or exercises
> Include easy and ready to make food
> Put in reminders of past wins
> Note specific ways to move your body

Remember, Me Time isn’t a luxury. It should be an essential and necessary part of your routine mental health.

Me Time improves mental and physical wellbeing.

It makes you a happier person to be around at work and home.

With a little effort, you can fit it into your busy schedule. And, once you become an expert at protecting this time slot, you can aim higher and even book yourself for solo weekend getaways - the ultimate in rest and relaxation.

Armed with a strategy to find more time and some great self-care ideas, have we convinced you to come out of hiding?

And don’t punch your boss or burn that report.

Maybe do send an email to that cow in marketing, a less snarky version.

Tell your mother in law you’ll bring the bread rolls, someone else can deal with the rest.

Oh, and don’t forget about the chocolate infused valium for your Self-Care Emergency kit. 😉

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]