Busy parents often feel that any sort of ‘me time’ is a luxury they can’t afford to indulge in. Yet psychotherapist and author Abby Wynne explains the importance of carving out just 10 minutes each day to become our best self.
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We are all creatures of habit; we love routine and we go on autopilot more often than we even realise. Have you ever driven to work or school or the supermarket and it seems like the car just knows how to get there? Or you turn the kettle on for a cuppa at 11am out of habit, and start looking for snacks at 3pm. Add in the routine of picking up the kids, homework, activities, making dinner…and all of a sudden, another day is over.
When we work on autopilot we get tangled up in the doings of the day, and disconnected from being present in the moment. When this happens, you are only working at 30% efficiency. We make choices while we are working automatically, and we often aren’t aware of the consequences of these choices until much later. Does this resonate with you?
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Being vs Doing
We have all heard of mindfulness and self-care – how doing it creates a space for ‘being’, instead of ‘doing’. However, more often than not, we are unsuccessful at incorporating ‘me time’ into a routine.
Many of my clients would say that the idea of ‘me time’ is being selfish, because everything that they need to do is more important than spending time just ‘being’. I regularly see the long-term effects of this – people take on more than they can handle, not eating properly, not resting, burning out and getting sick.
I want to plant the seed of the idea that the opposite is actually what is true. Not looking after yourself properly is selfish, because it means that you’re not offering your best self to the world.
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What is Your Best Self?
Your ‘best self’ is you when you’re at 50% capacity or more. Your best self is fully alert and present, can hear what is being said, but also what is not being said. Your best self doesn’t take things personally and react, but takes a step back, sees the full picture and responds. Your best self doesn’t want to get tangled up in other people’s emotions or drama. Your best self does get angry of course, but doesn’t hold on to it for months on end.
Simply put, your best self is you at your best – and if you don’t take at least 10 minutes a day to connect into your centre, re-prioritise what is truly important to you, and choose what and whom you engage with, then you have no chance of connecting into the best you that you can be.
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Make Time For You
Firstly, you need to prioritise spending 10 minutes a day disconnecting from everything around you, and reconnecting into the essence of who you are.
Ask yourself if you think this is worthwhile right now, and if you feel anxious or nervous about the idea, write down all of the reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Walk away from the list and come back to it a few hours later, when you’re in a different frame of mind. Work through all the reasons you’ve given yourself, and you’ll more than likely eliminate them all.
Next, pick a time of day that would work for you. Mid-morning, around 11am is good because it’s usually a good time for a break, but you can choose whatever works best for you. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at your chosen time – make sure that the alarm tone for this is relaxing, and completely different to the alarm you use to wake up in the morning or one you use as a reminder. A special tone just for ‘me time’.
It will take a while to get used to this, so you need to consciously make an effort and commit to it until this, ironically, becomes part of your routine. Each morning when you look at your plan for the day, make sure you are available for your 10 minutes of me time; if not, reschedule the alarm to a different time of day when you’ll be less busy.
When your alarm goes off, take your 10 minutes without fail. Turn off the phone, close the door, whatever it is that you need to do to create a space for you.
Breathe, and notice how you are feeling. Place your feet on the ground, and slow down your breathing. Like you’re stopping time by slowing down your breath. Now imagine your energy as octopus arms, entangled in all of the things you’re consumed by. See them slowly detangling themselves and pulling inwards, into you, so that there is more of you present. Do this slowly and deliberately, and notice where you have trouble. Don’t rush, take the full 10 minutes to work through this process.
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Maintain Your Focus
When you’re done, notice how you feel; and notice the quality of your interactions once you’ve done this and how you make your decisions for the rest of the day. If you feel that 10 minutes in the morning is not enough for you, schedule in another 10 minutes later in the day too.
After a while, the time on the clock will be the prompt for you to stop, breathe, listen, focus, detangle, ground and centre yourself. When you get good at it, it happens quicker, and you can do it before a meeting, before an event, before you make a phone call. If you find yourself worried about something at the end of the day, try these steps and let your best self handle your concerns, instead of you at a lower capacity.
You have the power to take control of your awareness, your energy, your focus and concentration. Make this the year your best self shows up, so you can have the best year yet!
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What do you do to connect with your best self? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!