All of us know that taking time for ourselves is a good thing; we’ve all heard of the phrase “me time”. But how many of us actually do it? Stress and overwhelm is one of the most common reasons that people seek therapy in the UK. Those feelings of stress are the response to a situation, or a range of situations which tell us that we need to take action.
When we ignore those feelings of stress, telling ourselves that we just need to get our work done or the kids to school, we feel productive. Society rewards us for keeping on going. However ignoring those mounting feelings of stress can be deadly, warn researchers. A study published in the European Heart Journalfound that people who reported high levels of stress to the point where they were concerned that it was affecting their health were twice as likely to experience a heart attack as those who reported that they were unaffected physically by stress.
September 6th is National Read a Book Day. Reading, more than some other pleasurable pastimes has been linked to lowered stress levels and other health and social benefits. However, regularly making time to do something that you find absorbing and relaxing is an excellent way to reduce stress levels and increase feelings of well-being. The act of taking time to yourself to engage in an activity that you find rewarding is enough to lower your stress levels and give you a new lease on life.
If you struggle to find time for yourself because you’re busy taking care of others, you might want to re-prioritise. Perhaps you could designate the washing up to someone else and take an hour or two on a weekday evening to absorb yourself in a book, rather than watching TV. Or maybe substitute your weekend newspaper full of doom and gloom, with a novel. Joining a book club can be a great way of committing yourself to reading a book which you’ll later discuss with others. This provides a sociable outlet and accountability that makes you more likely to read the chosen publication and attend.
Many of us feel guilty when we take time for ourselves. It can feel selfish. However, taking that time for self-care means that we can be more present and less frazzled in other areas of our lives. Often when we feel as though we have no time for ourselves it’s because we aren’t prioritising ourselves. How many things in a week do you say yes to when you wish you could say no? Perhaps you could make a deal with yourself to leave work exactly on time just one day a week or say no to the request to make 200 fairy cakes for the school fete. While it might feel uncomfortable at first, you’ll grow to love the difference in how you feel as you have more time for yourself.
Many people who come to see me have trouble saying no to others. This could be because of self-esteem issues, or because they were brought up in a family where they were expected to take on the lion’s share of household tasks. This habit, whilst pleasing others around us, is detrimental to both our health, happiness and even success.
If you want to learn the art of saying no or to find a way of making more time for yourself and your interests, hypnotherapy can be a useful tool. In my practice I regularly see people who want to learn to prioritise themselves higher in their to-do list. To find out more or arrange a free consultation, please get in touch.