The U.S. Census calculated that Americans now spend on average about 30 minutes getting back and forth to work. Couple that with an average 9-hour work day and depending on what time you get to bed you’re left with maybe 4 or 5 hours of free time before you do it all over it again. Talk about the daily grind. But those are averages. For many of us they don’t represent the reality of living in a metropolis with public transport, rush hour traffic and suburban to city commutes. In all that time, when is there any time for you?
It is critical to carve out time within your day to center yourself and remember why it is you are working so hard. My Dad says all the time how life has flown by and I’ve never appreciated that sentiment more since I’ve started working 40-hours a week. Your life isn’t going to pause until you hit the button. Some great ways how:
My last two roommates’ cooking routine would start around 6 p.m. every day when they got off work. It included wine, music and good conversation with friends all piled into our kitchen. There was so much joy in their cooking; it never felt like a week night. I adopted this ritual once I moved out and still force myself to pick out a new recipe to try every week.Dance
I don’t mean at a night club, although that could work too…There are plenty of dance studios in every city, so take advantage of a beginners class. Partnered classes like ballroom or line dancing are great for those with a significant other. It doesn’t have to be about fitness just about having fun and picking up a hobby outside of your comfort zone.
Join a gym or studio
True, personal fitness can be accomplished anywhere without the use of fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership. However, if you’ve never had the experience and if money allows check out a gym or yoga/Pilates studio near you. The amenities, customer service and space are worth the price of admission. Especially if you are someone that loses motivation to stay fit easily, there is incentive in being a member. The possibility of a sauna/steam room access doesn’t hurt either.
Do a devotional/meditation/daily reading
Regardless of your spiritual journey it is always good to have some time to reflect on the day and gather your thoughts. Take out time to read a daily devotional or scripture. Sit with yourself in silence and focus on your breathing and pace of your heart. Pick out a great book and dedicate yourself to reading a certain number of pages a night. Buy a new newspaper or magazine and read it cover to cover.
Get a pedicure/manicure
Men I mean this for you too. Even if you are the one doing the manicuring. Soak your feet, trim your nails, polish up your toes, or bathe your body in Epsom salt. Doing these things mid-week will keep you reinvigorated and ready for the rest of the week.
Even if you aren’t particularly good at it. Buy yourself a notebook and start journaling. It can be long lists or sporadic thoughts, but whatever comes up should come out. Making your thoughts permanent will help you be in tune with your moods and goals. This may be an asset to you when you are working through a much bigger problem later down the line.
If your work is mostly autonomous you may want to give some thought to commuting with a work friend who lives nearby. Conversation can spark your brain activity early in the morning and get you ready for the day. Not to mention it is a great way to conserve gas and energy.
Treat yourself to something that you’ve been craving. Wait until the new trends come out for winter, spring, fall or summer and indulge in a piece that is really going to add something to your wardrobe. Don’t think shopping spree, think shopping for me.
Rent a movie
In lieu of zoning out to the TV all night long pick a movie every week to watch and curl up in bed. This is a great way to see those Oscar buzz flicks you missed in the theatre because you were too busy.
Habit makes ritual. Make sure that whatever you are doing you are doing with consistency. Doing it over it over will make it a ritual that you will won’t want to skip!
NOTE! Don’t feel guilty about your “me time.” Even if you have children. I know that life can get crazy and we all have responsibilities, but the idea isn’t to shirk those responsibilities to do whatever you want all day long. If you never recharge your batteries than you aren’t presenting the best you and that isn’t fair to your kids, spouse, career and most importantly yourself.
Danae Matthews writes for an on-line women’s health resource Women’s Health Base. She enjoys cooking, staying healthy and creating as much “me time” as possible.