Life can be hectic. And with the presence of smart phones, the feeling of needing to be productive has never been more present.
Being continuously proactive and ambitious is seemingly essential in today’s high-tech, fast, and bustling world. But the need for taking time for yourself has not lost its importance (even though it often takes a back seat).
I often find myself feeling like I’m constantly running behind, from one thing to the next, never giving myself a chance to take a moment for myself.
When I finally do take a moment, I wonder why I don’t prioritize “just taking a moment” more often as a means to enjoying life about 5-10% more.
In this article we’ll explore expert perspectives, opinions, and the latest science behind the importance of mental health and “just taking time for yourself”.
What Does “Time For Yourself” Mean?
We all know that we should take time for ourselves, but what exactly does that mean.
Taking time for yourself can be as simple as a quick moment to close your eyes and breathe in your car after a tough meeting, or prioritizing time for yourself to do things that make you happy and help you relax. For example, spending alone time reading, meditating, soaking in a hot tub, going for a walk, or playing with your dog.
I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to getting caught up in work or other obligation. And I’ve learned that it usually leads to periods of burnout, stress, sometimes depression.
6 Ways “Self-Time” Can Benefit Your Life
Self-time can benefit your life in many ways. It can help you relax and recharge, give you time to reflect on your day-to-day life, and help you find balance. Ultimately, remembering to take moments for yourself can help you get more enjoyment out of life.
1. Improve Concentration and Focus
According to experts at Healthline, When you return to work after a quick break or moment to yourself, “don’t be surprised if you feel more focused, motivated, or even creative. Breaks can help boost these functions and more.”
Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking a break from intense periods of focus can give your brain time to process your thoughts and rejuvenate. This ultimately results in an improved ability to both concentration and focus for prolonged periods of time.
When you’re constantly “on the go” and not giving yourself any time to process, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and scattered-brained.
By taking time for yourself, you can eliminate distracting thoughts which allows you to be more productive.
2. Boost Positive Thinking
When you feel relaxed it’s easier to think positively and easier to have a more optimistic outlook on life. Simple right?
Yeah, right !
But by prioritizing down time in your schedule, it will naturally allow you to process your emotions, gather your thoughts, and give yourself an opportunity for relaxing and restoring your energy levels.
With a more relaxed mindset, comes an easier path towards positive thinking patterns.
According to health experts at Mayo-Clinic, “when your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress, which may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.”
But also, according to a 18 year long study published in 2020 by Science Daily, “you don’t have to spend your days striving to think positively” Researchers found that being realistic about your future and making sound decisions based on evidence can bring on a sense of optimism.
3. Improve Self-Esteem
Choosing time for yourself for personal reflection and goal setting can help improve your self-esteem. But you need to choose it.
In a 2019 study published by Science Direct, Dr. Virginia Thomas and her research team found that when faced with sudden time alone, you’re more likely to perceive yourself as lonely. As compared to when you CHOOSE time to yourself, you can plan-ahead, which can increase self-confidence.
Basically, your intent matters.
Esteem Benefits of Choosing Time Alone:
- It allows you to focus on our own needs and wants.
- Taking care of your physical state leads to improved self-esteem.
- Doing things you love can help increase your confidence and overall self-worth.
- Self-time can decrease stress and depression, which leads to better self-esteem.
4. Boost Creativity
When we don’t take time for ourselves, our creativity suffers.
But by giving yourself a moment to breathe, process, and relax…it can open up new creative pathways in your brain.
An earlier 2012 study lead by cognitive psychologist Dr. Lorenza Colzato, found that a specific type of meditation, known as open-monitoring meditation, was found to
Reduce “top-down control” of the brain. This process facilitates jumping from one thought to another – which is required in creative thinking.
5. Improve You Understanding of Yourself
We all learned to walk by falling…, making an adjustment…, and trying again. After a few hundred attempts, we slowly learn to walk after we’ve made enough adjustments to balance.
When you take time for yourself, you have time to breathe and reflect at a slower pace. This leads to a better understanding of who you truly are and what you really want out of life.
- It can lead to increased independence and confidence.
- Become less likely to rely on others for validation or approval.
- Make it easier to focus on the things that matter most to you.
6. Improve Your Relationships
Lastly, taking time for yourself can also help improve your relationships.
I don’t want to harp on the importance of reflecting, but by reflecting on anything from self-performance, to your relationships it opens the door for improvement.
According to Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, a professor at Northern Illinois University,
By giving yourself the opportunity to develop a stronger bond with yourself, you are also giving yourself a window into the depths of which you can take your relationships with others. –
In other words, by spending time with yourself you can learn to expand your love for yourself (in a humble way), and by expanding your love for yourself, you can expand your love for others.
6 Ways To Create Time For Yourself
Ok great, taking time alone is healthy and beneficial but who’s got time for that ?
Remembering to take time for yourself (and then finding time for yourself) is not as easy as flipping a switch. It’s something that takes conscious awareness and practice.
There are a lot of ways to practice self-care. It can be something as simple as taking a few minutes after each day to reflect, or spending some time outside in nature.
Dedicating even an hour or two each week to do something solely for yourself can make all the difference.
1. Move Your Body
You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, exercise is essential for both physical and mental health. It’s simple, but it works. Exercise helps reduce stress, improves sleep quality, and boosts energy and self confidence.
If you’re not used to being active, start slowly with walking or with some beginner exercises like yoga, or stretching.
As some who exercises often, but is certainly not a work-out guru, remember, don’t get down on yourself for taking breaks.
2. Enjoy A Daily Routine
Most people have daily routines that we follow day in and day out. But do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut?
Maybe you get up, go to work, come back home, have a meal, watch TV, and then go to bed. Welcome to the American dream. Up, work, home, TV, Bed, meals in-between and repeat.
When you repeat the same routine, it’s essential for your mental sanity to find a balance between work, play, and relaxation. One way to do this is to make “time for yourself “part of your routine.
- Take a few moments reflect on your goals each morning while you’re enjoying your cup of coffee.
- Swap TV time in the evening for time to wind down with a good book.
- Set Sunday’s as an established day for prioritizing your own goals and priorities.
3. Create A Hobby
One way to ensure you’re taking time for yourself is to develop a hobby. Hobbies aren’t just for losers in their basement who love playing with toy trains.
Hobbies are a means of expressing a side of yourself that you don’t get to express otherwise elsewhere in your life.
For example, I’ll never be in the NBA, but I love playing basketball as a hobby. It allows me to express myself physically and socially as a team in ways that I don’t get to in my normal day-to day. Sports are a great hobby at any age from which countless lessons can be learned.
But embracing a hobby for mental health reasons doesn’t have to be sports related. Maybe you’re an art person or video gamer – you get the idea.
It can be anything that you enjoy doing in your free time. It should make you happy and relaxed and takes your mind off work and stress.
4. Practice Mindfulness
With some much technology constantly surrounding us, finding time to relax and be present in the moment can be challenging.
Mindfulness is a practice that can help you to focus on the here and now and let go of all the distractions of daily life. Practicing mindfulness is the solution to your overactive thoughts. By practicing mindfulness you become more in control of your thoughts, your actions, your emotions, and your self-awareness.
Medical Experts agree that mindfulness benefits include lowering your stress levels, reducing patterns of harmful over-thinking, and protecting against both depression and anxiety.
5. Go On a Date With Yourself
One of the best things you can do for yourself confidence is to go on a date with yourself.
Also, going on a date with yourself can be incredibly difficult. But it’s a great way to get to know yourself better. And a great way to learn new things about yourself.
You may be surprised at how enjoyable going out with yourself actually is once you get over your initial fear response.
6. Spend Time Doing Nothing
For me personally, spending time doing nothing is a task I find incredibly difficult, but usually much needed.
We are so used to being busy that we often forget to stop and do nothing. It can be tricky, especially if you have a lot on your plate. But when you’re feeling overburdened, less can lead to more.
My favorite way to do nothing is to read a book.
- Read a Book –
It can help clear your mind and allow you to escape reality for a little while. Plus (depending on the book) you can learn which is actually a form of doing ‘something’, so you don’t feel guilty for doing nothing.
By taking some time to relax and rejuvenate, you’ll be able to get a better handle on everything else that comes your way.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts
Prioritizing time for yourself is essential for both long term physical and mental health.
Easier said than done.
But if you’re not taking time for yourself, and you know the benefits, then you can make the changes you need to benefit yourself.
Getting caught up in work and forgetting to care for yourself is easy. However, if you don’t make time for self-care, you’ll eventually burn out. To avoid burnout and maintain a healthy balance in your life and don’t exclude scheduling some time each week for yourself.
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