Whether we’re preparing for finals, knee deep in an internship, managing a blooming social life or trying to balance a fair bit of it all, making time for ourselves often seems to fall to the very bottom of our priority list. In any case, finding time for yourself is both extremely important AND possible, no matter how packed your schedule may be. TRMC is here to help you out with 10 ways to find time to unwind and recharge, so that you can continue to feel like your very best self.
1. Productivity Pockets
Boost productivity by cutting out all those two to three minutes “phone breaks” while working and save those minutes up for a real well-deserved break.
Studies have shown that the average person’s focus begins to decline after 40-45 minutes, so the idea that you “just don’t have time for a break” just doesn’t do itself justice. A good rule of thumb is to focus on maintaining a consistent work-to-break ratio. This could mean taking a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes productivity. Many CEOs and even some politicians swear by this strategy to help them get through their non-stop, high-pressure work schedules.
Eliminating distractions during those 40-45 minutes work periods can be difficult – so utilising website blockers can be a helpful tool in learning to stay on track until your next break. Forest is a great extension available on Google Chrome. It allows users to build a virtual forest by planting a tree and committing to a time period anywhere between 10 minutes and two hours of staying off any blacklisted sites while the tree grows.
2. Turn off those notifications
These days, anyone can get in touch with anyone at the press of a button – which can be both a blessing and a curse. If you ever find yourself feeling like you’re having a hard time escaping the outside world, don’t be afraid to turn off those notifications.
Understandably, you may not want to block out ALL communication. A solution to this could be as simple as playing around with different settings such as “Allow calls from favourites” or having emergency bypass turned on for your loved ones. It’s fairly easy to tell your phone how to pick and choose who can or cannot wait until you’ve had enough time to recharge.
3. Enjoy your meals
While brain food is an essential part of living a healthy and active lifestyle, there is a very fine line between multitasking and forgetting to actually enjoy your meals. It’s not uncommon to find students hunched over their desks, with a pen in one hand and a burrito in the other – eyes glued to their screen.
While this may seem like a good solution, it often results in significantly less productivity and a stomach-ache. Remember that you’re human – food is meant to be enjoyed, and it’s completely okay to allow yourself 20-30 minutes to eat in peace. This is a great time to give yourself a mental break from whatever it is that’s eating up your attention.
4. Meal Prep
Not only is this a great way to stay on track of a healthier, more balanced diet, but it’s also a great way to save valuable time that can be used to properly enjoy the time you have during your breaks. Having prepared meals ready in the fridge allows you to use your entire study or work break for eating and relaxing – no more frantically throwing something together for lunch.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, this article covers the basics of meal prepping and all of the benefits that come with it.
5. Lengthy commutes aren’t so bad
Consider getting off a stop earlier or walking the entire way if the commute is short enough. The time between finishing your workday and going home to whichever other tasks await you can be a great way to mentally recharge. Maybe budget in some time to listen to a guided meditation, or even do absolutely nothing.
Most of us are quick to spend the whole commute listening to music, going over notes, or making conversation, but it’s completely okay to take at least some of this time to do absolutely nothing. It’s important to give yourself a break, even if it means taking a few minutes of silence between tuning into your favourite podcast.
6. Wake up earlier
This doesn’t have to mean cutting into your sleep schedule. Getting yourself to bed a little earlier and waking up just as much as half an hour earlier could mean getting a little time to gather your thoughts and mentally prepare before the rest of the world wakes up.
Some find that arriving at school or work 30 minutes earlier in the morning is a great way to start their day. The time could be used to have breakfast, get some extra fresh air, meditate, or even just enjoy some peace and quiet before the day begins.
7. Know how to say “no”
Remember that it’s okay to say no to obligations and social gatherings. It’s easy to get carried away in offering your involvement left right and centre, but just as any other important obligation, time to yourself should be considered just as high of a priority.
Keep in mind that your free time does not have to mean your availability for others.
8. Make self-care a daily habit – not just during stressful times
The best way to make time for self-care during overwhelming times is to keep it in your daily routine. You wouldn’t skip out on brushing your teeth or eating, so the same should go for whatever else it is that you consider to be self-care. Whether that’s taking a few extra minutes in the morning to stretch, meditate, go for a walk, or do a multi-step skin-care routine – there’s no reason to cut into your “you” time any more than you would on any other part of your essential daily routine.
9. Put it in your calendar
Google Calendar doesn’t only have to be for your meetings and appointments! Normalize scheduling time for yourself to relax alongside all of your other important commitments. As silly as it may sound, blocking off time in your calendar can really help serve as a reminder to yourself to take a pause from your busy life.
It’s easy to see a gap in your schedule and immediately think of a way to fill it with some other task. It may help to schedule your blocks of time way in advance, and plan around them. Some like to reserve one day a week to themselves – where they consider themselves unavailable for any other tasks, commitments or obligations.
10. Let go of the guilt – treat yourself as no less than you would your best friend.
We all have people in our lives that we always make time for, no matter how busy. Why should we treat ourselves any less than that? Our relationship with ourselves is the most important of all and should not be overlooked or tossed to the side during busy times. Instead, just as you would lean towards your loved ones during times of need, it’s important to make time for yourself to just “be”.
If you hadn’t seen your best friend in a while, you would make it a priority to find the time to see them. The same can go for yourself – if it’s been a while since you’ve had some time to recharge and clear your mind, make it a priority to fit it into your schedule. The struggle to find time for ourselves is often tied to the placing of lesser value on ourselves as opposed to other important people in our lives.
Making time to rest, recharge, and do things we love to do is vital to the process of working towards being and truly feeling like our very best selves.