Me Time vs. We Time
If your life is like mine at all, chances are a majority of your time is spent in “we” time. In my experience “we” time is all parts of the day where I have to spend energy interacting with other people. Because of our “always on” culture, unless you work for yourself, in the woods, separate from all human contact, you probably have some kind of understanding/appreciation for how draining this kind of constant socialization can be. Some, of course, find this easier to handle than others, but everyone at some time or another can benefit from cultivating a practice of “me time.”
Extroverted people, who by definition are recharged by interacting with people, can also benefit from “me time." Many of my more extroverted friends experience a type of burn-out unique to the more social folk out there. They unbeknownst to themselves, run out of energy for social interactions, and find themselves frustrated when finding new ways to restore balance to their psyches. More introverted folk are already aware of “me” time as a necessity for their continued mental health, and as such are practiced at taking this type of time for themselves. For these folk, who prefer to spend much of their time by themselves (or in smaller groups), “me time” can also be an opportunity for personal development, an opportunity to explore parts of themselves they weren’t aware of.
Despite these seemingly positive functions of ”me time,” many folk are ashamed of taking time for themselves as it’s seen as a weakness and the epitome of antisocial behavior to indulge in this type of self-care. We tend not to celebrate the moments where folk can be alone and instead our Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with pictures of parties and clubs and other social gatherings.
In the face of a society that prioritized social activities over more solitary exploits, here’s a list of activities you can do to add a chunk of “me time” to your life.
1) Read a book!
Reading books is the Stairway to Heaven of “me” time activities. Though it’s a classic, trodden path, I’d challenge you to change how you consume books during “me” time. Read not just to find out what happens in the story (so you can go tell someone about it) but read to get lost in a writer's sentences, to get caught up in the world of another writer's imagination.
2) Take a Walk!
Because I’m always running from one activity to the other, be it work or an appointment or some other kind of distraction, walking is probably my least favorite form of locomotion. That being said, when circumstances arise whereupon I have no choice but to hoof it, I find walking brings me to an almost meditative state. Since building and cars and scenery aren’t rushing past me at their typical speed anymore I’m able to pick out details and immerse myself in the aesthetics of a space.
Though I don’t typically enjoy walking as a means of getting from point A to Point B, when I’m overwhelmed at work, taking a walk is the best way to clear my mind. It allows me to get away from my computer and recenter myself in my surroundings.
I’ve historically been pretty apprehensive of many seemingly “woo woo” spiritual practices. That said, regardless of your spiritual beliefs, being able to take time to purposely NOT think and to relax your mind is a great use of “me time.” There are numerous studies that show the power of meditation in bettering your life. Some offices provide meditation as a benefit to their employees. That being said some of you may not be so lucky as to have scheduled meditation sessions at your job, but Apps like Headspace, Omvana, and Buddhify, and ambient nature sound apps like Naturespace, Calm, and Relax Melodies will transport your mind to other more relaxing places.
4) Watch Something
Pop in your favorite DVD or watch a movie you haven’t seen before. In today’s culture, services like Netflix and Hulu bring tons of movies to your fingertips (so long as you have an internet connection). If you want to get out of the house, go treat yourself to a solo matinee. Going to the movies alone is literally the secret to happiness. If you haven’t done it already, fix your damn life.
5) Get a side hustle/hobby.
Spending time alone working on a personal project is a great way to recharge your batteries while also focusing your mind on something productive. There is no more satisfying a feeling as looking on something that you’ve worked hard on and made yourself. Some friends of mine paint while others knit. I’ve got homies who are amateur woodworkers and my circles are lousy with musicians. Many of them point to their practices as essential parts of their self-care routine. My personal side hustle is pop-culture writing (see: everything about this!).
6) Listen to Music
When was the last time you listened to an entire album from beginning to end and REALLY paid attention to the music? Most of the time we play music in the background as a low-key distraction, a way of creating a sense of ambience while focusing on something else. Some of my most satisfying “me time” sessions has been listening to one of my favorite albums and noticing new musical textures and lyrics that might have otherwise eluded me had I not been putting my whole attention to it