Solitude is like an all-inclusive vacation for your soul. It replenishes and rejuvenates; it allows you to breath more slowly, to hear more keenly and to think more clearly. It also helps us be better– better parents, better partners, better employees. Yet even as most of us know this, we struggle to make time to be alone. A date with ourselves. Often, one (or more) of three themes emerge when people explain why they don’t schedule time to be alone: feeling guilty, feeling selfish or not enough time. Privately, the lack of alone-time may also stem from fear.
Our externalized culture emphasizes putting ourselves out there. Extroverts are perceived as fun, friendly and overall much happier. Introverts, on the other hand, are perceived as withdrawn, conceited, sad. Neither description really captures the essence of what it means to be introverted or extroverted, of course, but we fall into these assumptions partly because our society rarely values going inward. Nonetheless, the journey into ourselves is an important one.
In honor of all those people out there who struggle to find “me” time, as well as those who have figured out that the path to success involves “me” time, we’ve identified some shortcuts to carving this time out for yourself:
Put your mind to it
Even if you’re wracked with guilt about taking time for yourself, do it. This is a situation where “fake it till you make it” applies. Recognize that you are a more giving, able person when you find some time to pursue your own passions. Sure, the kids may miss you or there may be something pressing going on at work; nevertheless, it is difficult to give your all without this important dimension to self-care.
Communicate how your relationships will improve
When asking for alone time, explain why the relationship will improve if you create space for yourself. Use phrases that open up the conversation rather than putting the other person on the defense. Instead of saying, “I need a break from you,” try, “I want to be the best person I can for you. To do so, I need time alone to think and unwind.”
Recognize the other person’s needs, too
When seeking alone time, recognize the needs of the person you’re speaking to. If the person expresses a desire for more time with you, evaluate whether you’ve truly been present lately. If the person says he/she is afraid you don’t like them anymore, reflect on whether you’re showing them love in a way they can understand.
Having “me” time allows you to appreciate and enjoy the time you’re with others more. It refreshes your outlook on life and allows you to see more clearly. Carving out time for yourself is an important way to affirm that you matter. Even if it’s a mere 15 minutes a day, strive to schedule in some time for yourself every day.