“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~Pooh’s Little Instruction Book
Most of us have experienced the stress of making numerous plans in an already tight schedule and running from activity to activity with little hope of being on time. Many people, however, have not experienced planning “me time” into their schedule. It is important to note that each person’s time for him or herself varies in length of time and type of activity. The activities can vary from a five-minute check in with oneself to a day of doing nothing but watching your favorite movies on the couch. Either way, allotting time for oneself has numerous benefits. For one, planning time for oneself hopefully makes sure “me time” happens as well as reduces guilt about not doing other things on your to do list. As Pooh’s Little Instruction Book suggests, listen to all the things on your to do list screaming to be done but simply choose to not hear them during the time set aside for yourself.
Secondly, taking time for oneself can act as a stress management tool provided the outlet is considered a healthy one. Pooh’s Little Instruction Book was correct about not underestimating the value of “just going along” at times rather than always completing things on the dreaded to do list. According to Weiten (2007), stress is associated with several physical ailments including ulcers, high blood pressure, muscle tension, low back pain, flare ups of irritable bowel syndrome, and the common cold to name a few. Many factors are associated with the development of physical ailments but researchers believe that stress, in particular, weakens the immune system facilitating the development of illness. Stress is not inherently unhealthy. Stress can motivate people to accomplish things or to develop coping strategies and other strengths they were not even aware they had the ability to develop. Stress, however, that is not balanced with other moderating factors, such as “me time”, has the potential to be detrimental to one’s health. Balancing responsibility with self-care is important.
If taking time for you is a new concept, no worries, we have a few suggestions. As mentioned earlier, just stopping at some point in the day and asking “How am I feeling?” or “Is my body tense or relaxed?” can be a simple way to take “me time”. Other ways might be to complete relaxation exercises. Here is a website with relaxation scripts to choose from: http://www. innerhealthstudio.com/visualization-relaxation.html. (Please pay attention to the health and safety note from website designer.) If your doctor gives permission, exercise is a great way to take time just for you. Journaling is another way to plan time for you. Here is a website for journal topics for beginners: http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/ prompts.html. We wish you all the luck in creating a schedule with both responsibilities and time just for you and starting smart planning!