Taking time for yourself to do things that truly nurture you is essential to your wellbeing. Yet many of us treat “me time” like a luxury and can feel guilty before, during and after taking time for ourselves, even when doing something beneficial to our health like practicing meditation.
Our inner critic might tell us that “doing nothing” is a waste of time, or that we only deserve self-care when something is really off and we’re in the yellow or red zone. Yet this type of mindset leads to exhaustion, depletion and burnout when we neglect our very normal human need for down time.
Meditation is a great preventative measure against burnout because it helps reduce stress, increase productivity and enhance our creativity. Um, yes please!
In order to motivate yourself, it’s helpful to focus on the “why” that is driving your desire to change. Is your stress keeping you from connecting and being present with your kids? Is it keeping you up at night? Do you get distracted easily or feel less productive than you’d like? Or is your inner critic so loud that it’s hard to hear anything besides that voice of self-doubt?
We often know we desperately need time for reflection, meditation, walks in nature or more sleep, yet our to-do list keeps growing and we can’t seem to find the time to nourish ourselves.
Meditation is a keystone habit meaning that it has a ripple effect and positively impacts all other changes you’re trying to create in your life. So if you’re wanting to have more “me time” in your life, meditation is an excellent place to start.
Here are a few practical steps to create a meditation practice that sticks.
I know if it doesn’t get on the calendar, it just doesn’t happen, so block time off time for your new meditation practice every day. I recommend starting with 5 minutes, but if that seems like too much, try 4 minutes. I’m serious!
Use guided meditations
Once you have 5 minutes blocked in your calendar, I recommend listening to a guided meditation to help focus your attention. I have a free 30 Day Meditation Challenge that thousands of women have used to start a daily meditation practice. Every day for 30 days, you’ll get a new 5 minute guided meditation in your inbox on topics such as enhancing your focus, creating more joy, quieting your inner critic and letting stress melt away. It’s so much easier to listen to someone else’s voice guide you through the process – otherwise you might spend your entire 5 minutes going over your to-do list instead of meditating and that wouldn’t be very relaxing.
Create a sticky habit through routine and reminders
It can be helpful to create a sacred place where you will meditate each day. This could be a cozy corner in your bedroom with a candle lit, or perhaps a bench outside each afternoon. You can also get creative with physical reminders, like placing a sticky note or glass of water by your bedside as a reminder to do your practice. These visual cues will help you remember your “why” and keep you motivated as you create this new habit.
Start saying no more often
We all know saying no is important and necessary, but it can feel stressful to actually do it. We often fret about how to do it, worry about not being liked, and then can feel guilty after going through with it. Saying yes all the time puts us on the fast track to having a completely packed schedule with zero down time – that’s why it’s so important to be mindful about what you’re committing to.It’s helped me to say “let me get back you” as an automatic default response so I can take a little time to reflect on my commitments and then give a realistic response. If it turns out your answer is a no, then check out this ”saying no” cheat sheet to help make saying a polite but firm no a little bit easier.
Get curious about your relationship to “me time”
In order to create more space for “me time,” it’s helpful to journal about your relationship to self-care so you can uncover what might be stopping you from filling your bucket.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you feel like time you don’t spend working is time wasted?
Do you feel like others might deserve your time more than you do?
How might your self-worth be connected to your productivity?
How does taking time for self-care align with your values?
Why is it important to model taking good care of yourself to the next generation?
Then get curious about what comes up for you and any key takeaways you discover.
Change is 20% insight, but 80% action, so make sure to take one step forward right now towards creating more “me time” in your life. You can sign up for my 30 Day Meditation Challenge or say no to an upcoming commitment that doesn’t spark joy for you. It doesn’t matter how small, just do one thing to take action and start creating the change you want to see in your life.
Lisa Abramson is an executive coach, mindfulness teacher, TEDx speaker and author. She lives in Menlo Park, California, with her husband and two girls.