I used to love international travel for work. I would get so much work done during the uninterrupted time on long-distance flights. Sometimes I would get whole days to myself if I was traveling over a weekend, or arriving on a Sunday morning. It felt wonderful because it was all me time “guilt free”, meaning it just happened and I didn’t have to assert my needs by asking for it. These pockets of time were gifts.
In retrospect, that was not a healthy point of view (especially when you consider the 6-8-hour time shift between where I lived and where I landed…). Yes, I was very productive, and that felt good, but in reality, it meant I wasn’t prioritizing my own needs (starting with sleep – jet lag is real). Asking for time for yourself is a skill, one we are not necessarily taught how to do. It is up to each of us to empower this for ourselves, allowing us to meet our own needs in an environment where there are others with their own, sometimes competing, needs.
When was the last time you took time just for you? Not for the kiddo’s, not to work from home, not to get errands done. Time to do something you wanted to do (not something you should or have to do)? It’s a healthy thing to plan for, taking time you’ve earned just for yourself; we plan for family vacations, but do you plan for an hour, or a day, of time for yourself? This doesn’t always mean taking time off work to do it, but if you have enough earned time, why not?
As it turns out, taking time for yourself also requires practice. A past client of mine opted to take a day off each month in the summer, and just enjoy it. Sounds good right? What happened was she enjoyed a leisurely breakfast coffee…and then took a phone call and was on-line with work for the rest of the day. Or she would get bored and decided to do some work in “stealth mode” (looking off-line but in reality, being connected to do work from home). Sometimes taking time for yourself has a learning curve. I know my own “me time” can easily get consumed with work, or family needs, if I don’t have an intention for that time (like pajamas and a good book).
Where are you in this learning curve? Can you, guilt free, take an hour, an afternoon or a day and do things just for yourself that help you to re-charge and take a break from the day-to-day? If you were to have time to yourself, what would you do with that time? How do you attend to your own whole-ness and well-being?
This is an important skill to cultivate, empowering you to put yourself first (even if just for a little while). Work to live, not live to work.