The Truth about “Me Time”

Have You Ever: 

– Spent a wonderful evening after work with friends, but realized you still felt “rundown” once the evening ended?

– Found yourself binging while on the phone with a close friend, even though you were enjoying the conversation?

– Felt a need during a social time to binge, even if others were having reasonable portions?

– Had a wonderful day playing with your children/pet, yet felt a bit stressed out from having to sustain such high energy?

– Found yourself feeling bored/distracted during a heartfelt conversation with a loved one, and then chose to binge to liven things up?

– Noticed that even during times of comfort with a loved one, it seems like binging on a certain food would make things “even better”?

– Noticed that even after exercise or yoga you still feel a bit “on edge”

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then its possible you have fallen into the trap of confusing “social” time with personal time. Keep reading to learn more about this common problem, and how to fix it!

Many people count the time they spend with loved ones in a relaxed environment as “Me Time”, but seem to forget that their scheduled personal time is still not met after spending time with others.

I could even go a step further and consider time with friends and family (even your spouse while at home) as Social Time. The problem is that, if “Me Time” cannot be met by spending time with

others, then when can it be fully met? The startling answer is ALONE.  What is interesting about “Me Time” is that it doesn’t have to be over 20 minutes to be effective in most cases. The trick to

balancing personal time with social time is have QUALITY social time. Spend time with your close friends, spend time with your children doing shared activities, and spend time with your spouse

doing enjoyable activities that bring you happiness. With such a quality social time you will feel happier, and more relaxed (thereby, reducing the length of personal time alone needed).

Why is “Personal Time” so important to be spent alone? Well, everyone needs a place to think quietly to themselves. By our very nature our thoughts are only heard within our own heads, and

for this reason its important to have time to center ourselves with these private thoughts alone. When people skip personal time, and try to count social time as “Me Time” the danger is that

psychologically the need for “alone” time will not be diminished: the person will still crave time to themselves in spite of how many wonderful hours they spend with others, and in turn this can

lead to wanting to “feed” the need for time alone and self nurturing (ie; binging).

I suggest that personal time be taken BEFORE social time, even if your personal time is shortened to just 10-20 minutes. Another benefit of taking out personal time before social time is that

it increases your communication skills with your loved ones. The reason for your concentration being increased after alone time is both a reduction in the need to multitask activities that should

be reserved for “alone time”, and also an increase is feelings of clarity from having those special moments alone to think.

So what is “Me Time”?

Another confusing part of personal time is what specifically counts as “me time”. I have seen so many books, articles, and websites make personal time seem like a spa day: rose petals

in the bathtub, expensive perfume spritzed on after your bath, a french massage, the finest chocolates, a dozen candles around your bedroom. I think that if you have access to these sorts

of things, and the time to set them up then go for it. However, I feel that a more realistic view of personal time is looking at what you “miss” while you are busy. I have some favorite shows

I like, websites I like to visit, books I like to read. I do not try to cram EVERYTHING into my personal time, but generally pick one thing that I would enjoy at the end of the day. Sometimes I

click my way through CNN to see the top headlines, other days I read a book (even 2 pages), and some other days I level up in my favorite video game. The point is that you are gaining your

own trust again, and showing yourself that you accept the responsibility of taking care of yourself. As you gain your own trust by showing yourself that you do not need food to restore yourself,

but only simple to give yourself nutrition it can really reduce the need to “feed” your emotions.

Try it 2 days!

1. Schedule in when you will spend time with loved ones (including time with your children)

2. 20 minutes before that scheduled time take out some personal time doing something “simple” you enjoy

3. Spend time with your loved ones as scheduled

4. Write in your journal, or post a comment about how the quality of your time with this person improved as a result of putting yourself first

Ideally, it is best to spend 1-2 hours of alone time until you start to feel more “restored”. I know that this isn’t a perfect world, and that many of us are busy—however, please realize that the

time many people spend “binging” usually comes out to at least 10 minutes, which is time they could have spent doing more restorative things for themselves. Even when you feel too busy

to take personal time, at the end of the day find time for it, because if you don’t then your change of binging that same amount of time (or more) increases.

Image: graur codrin /


One thought on “The Truth about “Me Time”

  1. I know it sounds weird, but I needed a whole year of “me” time to recover after a lot of truly bad things happened in my life. Some things just take a long time to recover from.

    I’m still not sure I’m ready to return to work even, for example – I’m still in “recovery” phase, and will probably be for a while yet. So this post really spoke to me. “Me time” is so important.

    Thanks for posting it.

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