23 Genius Ways to Maximize Your "Me Time"
Get ready to feel like you just returned from a week-long vacation.
Ahh, Me Time: The glorious devotion of minutes (and ideally, many of them) spent entirely on yourself. Or, at the very least, not spent worrying about everyone else. (Yeah, there's a reason it's not called Us Time.) Setting aside a few designated hours of Me Time a week can help reduce stress, boost happiness, and increase productivity.
One University of Buffalo study even found that people who spend time alone are more creative than people who don't. And while all Me Time is valuable, there are a few ways to get the greatest possible benefit. Here, 23 ways to make the most of your time.
Take your Me Time without apology.
There's no need to apologize for dedicating time to yourself. In fact, the minute you start apologizing is the minute you start questioning whether you ought to be doing something else with your time (and no, you shouldn't be). It's time to own the fact that taking care of yourself isn't just something you deserve, it's something you need to be a happy, functioning human being.
What's more, when others see you maximizing your Me Time, they'll feel more empowered to do the same. And when the people around you are happier, you'll be happier.
Take a little Me Time every day.
Me Time isn't only about lazy Sundays spent lounging in bed. On the contrary, you'll want to take at least 15 to 20 minutes each day to yourself, says health psychologist Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. That could mean anything from waking up a few minutes early to read for pleasure or penciling in time for a brief journaling session every afternoon. You might even schedule several short walking breaks throughout the day to focus on how you feel.
Take extended Me Time, too.
As crucial as tiny bits of Me Time are, it's important to have some extended periods of Me Time, too. Maybe you've earned a sabbatical at work, or you can finagle a leave of absence for the sole purpose of taking time for yourself. But don't fret if you can't swing a few months away. In addition to your 15 minutes a day, a short block of Me Time once a week is enough to stay balanced, says Kendall-Tacket.
Establish daily self-care routines.
Routines help us do things without having to think about them. So make sure that part of your Me-Time strategy includes simple ways to incorporate the practice into your schedule. That could mean a quiet cup of coffee or a glass of warm lemon water in the morning, or dancing to your favorite power anthem every afternoon. The point is to build these routines so they happen without you having to think about them. Science says it takes 21 days to develop a habit—so get started now for maximum Me-Time results!
Try something completely new.
To keep your Me-Time experiences fresh and exciting, you'll want to mix things up. If you've always wanted to fly on a trapeze, try that. Curious about a new type of facial treatment? Book an appointment. Neuroscientist David Eagleman, Ph.D., says when you experience something novel, it slows down your brain's perception of time. That means that by spending your Me Time on something new, you're effectively doubling it.
When in doubt, book a massage.
Getting a massage is pretty much the ultimate way to spend some Me Time in my book. Massage relaxes us in the short term and can alleviate chronic pain in the long term. One study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry even found that patients who were depressed and anxious had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a 30-minute massage. If you can swing it, schedule a massage as one of your standing monthly Me-Time rituals. There's nothing more soothing or luxurious.
Turn your chores into Me Time.
Two things I really detest: Washing the dishes and driving in traffic. If you have a task you're not looking forward to, see if you can flip the switch and make it fun by integrating some Me Time. For example, I like to listen to podcasts or watch Gilmore Girls reruns while washing dishes (guilty pleasure alert!). And of course, you'll want to do the task you despise first, as there's nothing worse than coming home from a day of pampering to a heaping pile of dishes. Finding a way to marry your Me Time and your to-do list? That's a win-win.
Concoct your own signature infusion.
Signature cocktails are one thing. But a signature infusion has the same exclusive flair without the risk of a hangover. Infusions are created by soaking the leaves of a plant or herb in water. My own custom infusion includes turmeric, nettle, and chamomile. I soak the leaves in water for 10 minutes and then—depending on how I'm feeling—will add apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, and honey to taste. The entire process calms me right down. Check out a local herbalist to see which plants might appeal to your own needs. Or try something simple, like soaking fresh mint in hot water with honey.
Experiment with clean beauty.
We all know that what we eat gets directly absorbed into our bodies. But the same thing is true for what we put onto our faces and bodies. Head to a local apothecary or cosmetics store that carries clean beauty products and experiment with what you like. Nothing says Me Time like feeling beautiful in an ethical and healthful way. And nothing says pampering like a new face mask or luxurious body butter. For more on what to avoid, learn the 20 Beauty Products You Should Never Use.
Get the kids involved.
It might sound counterintuitive to include anyone, let alone kids, in your Me Time. But for those of us who feel relaxed and at ease when we are around little ones, bringing the kids in your life into your Me Time can be the perfect way to unwind.
I've started creating a "Mommy Salon" with my kids. After they take a bath, I let them try my special face oils and other kid-safe beauty products. They love it and so do I. It relaxes and rejuvenates me to know I'm teaching my kids the value of having a self-care routine.
Take a class.
If you're feeling lost in your own self-guided Me Time, try taking a class. That way, someone else is in charge of creating the experience so you can focus your efforts on relaxing and having fun. The trick is to pick a class where you're just as into the format as the type of skill you're learning. So if you hate the online experience, find something IRL. If you prefer to go at your own pace, opt for something self-guided. This spring, I'm in the market for a class on gardening in the Hudson Valley!
There's something truly magical about getting out in nature. I recently relocated, trading my home city of Washington, D.C., for the beautiful Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. The stunning woodlands and mountains here inspire me every day. But it doesn't matter where you are—heading outdoors has real benefits. Look up a few places nearby and get your fix of fresh air on your next self-care day.
Draw a self-portrait.
In the era of selfie sticks, drawing a portrait can feel downright retro. Beginner drawers can try their hand at blind continuous line self-portraiture. The idea is to draw yourself without looking down at the page and without lifting your pen. If you want to up the ante on your creative experience, add a short piece of prose to accompany your likeness. Studies say creating art can relieve stress and put you in a soothing state of flow—two things that will definitely maximize your Me Time.
Go on a weekend getaway.
Get out of town—seriously. Go someplace close with an easy commute, or head someplace farther afield if your budget and schedule allow. And don't overcommit or plan what your days will look like in advance, either. Instead, let the entire weekend be about doing what you want. You'll leave feeling more rested and energized.
Support a local business.
As a small business owner, I like to support others who are running after their own passions too. If that resonates, consider finding ways to support local businesses as part of your Me Time rituals. Visit a local farm or get your nails down at that new eco-conscious salon that popped up down the block. You may just end up with some new friends, too—and research shows that increased connectivity to your local community can seriously boost your sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Cook an ambitious meal just for fun.
Eating is a universal and primal experience. So why not let your creativity loose by cooking an ambitious meal just for fun? Make that multi-layer cake you've been drooling over on Pinterest, or try your hand at that Moroccan stew you tried on vacation. You'll gain a new experience and have some yummy food. There's no beating that!
Do something touristy.
Whether you live in a major metro area or a small town, there are always a few classic touristy things to do. Yep, that means the kinds of activities that, as a local, you probably scoff at. Embrace your inner tourist and do that thing—and not with cynicism but with true joy. Chances are you'll enjoy seeing what others love about the place you call home. And who knows, maybe you'll leave with a renewed appreciation for your city.
Stay in bed all day.
After my third baby was born, I took a very slow approach to returning to my day-to-day routine. I was inspired by the aptly named book The First Forty Days which advocates for doing as much as possible (or really, as little as possible) to stay rested and warm for the first forty days after your baby is born. And I think we can all learn from this approach. Me Time doesn't have to be about doing something. It can simply be about doing nothing. Preferably while wrapped up in warm blankets and lying in bed.
Stare at the stars.
When was the last time you gazed up at the sky? Next time a clear evening presents itself, grab your favorite picnic blanket and head outdoors. Your job is to look up and do nothing else. If it makes you happy, you can absolutely consult a constellation guide to learn more about what you're seeing. But I'm also a fan of appreciating the night sky with nothing but an open heart and a sense of awe.
Listen to your favorite teenage music.
All the once-angsty teens raise your hands! There is something super nostalgic about the soundtrack (ahem, mixtape!) of our formative years. So pull together a few of your favorite hits and play them aloud (full volume, please!). Appreciate who you were at 15 and consider how much you've grown since then. Research has even found that indulging in nostalgia could help people deal with stress and anxiety. We take that to mean you shouldn't be afraid to bust a move if the feeling strikes.
Don't overthink it.
Me Time shouldn't be overcomplicated. Go with your gut on what feels most inspiring to you. "The key to tapping into your Me Time is to be honest about what things make you feel rejuvenated and what drains your energy reserves," says Kendall-Tackett. "There are many activities that you think you're supposed to like to do, but they stress you out because they take your time or cost too much." Enough said.
Invite your bestie to join you.
Just because it's called Me Time doesn't mean you have to do it alone. Just make sure that whichever friend you invite to join you knows that your goal is self-care. They can focus on themselves and you can do the same. It's knowing your buddy is there for you if you need him or her that counts!
Do it your way.
There are an infinite number of ways to approach Me Time. And obviously, no one way is right or wrong. The key is to follow your instinct on what will help you relax and feel good—and do that. Unabashedly and without apology. And for more ways to feel better, check out these 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress.
Sharon Lipovsky is an executive coach and founder of Point Road Studios. Her personal mission is to banish the world of limiting mindsets and beliefs and empower individuals and organizations to imagine what they want and understand that it is possible. She lives with her husband, three children, and two Boston Terriers in the Catskill Mountains of
upstate New York.
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