The Importance of Quality 'Me Time'

Why doing what you love should be a priority in your life.

January 9, 2015
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From taking out the trash in the morning to doing the dishes at night, life can start to feel like an endless cycle of errands and work, with little downtime. This can take a major toll on your well-being, especially if you're not getting quality "me time," according to research presented at the British Psychological Society's Division off Occupational Psychology conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

The presentation covered two studies. The first looked at daily diaries of 18 professionals while the second was a survey of 344 professionals.

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Almuth McDowall, PhD, lecturer on Organizational Psychology at the Birkbeck University of London and presenter at the Glasgow conference, says that the main thing that matters when it comes to "me time" isn't that you're doing it alone or even doing it every day.

The most important factor seems to be quality: It's an activity that you enjoy and that you intentionally chose to do. "'Me time' is a much-talked-about concept usually because people lament that they don't have any," says McDowall. "Interestingly, we found that 'me time' doesn't have to be solitary and is more beneficial if it involves freely chosen activities."

Additionally, McDowall explains that investing in high-quality "me time" has its benefits. "Overall, our research suggests if people take time out to recharge their batteries and experience the time taken out as high quality, this reaps benefits for their own psychological well-being, their family relationships, and for their employers, as they are more likely to perform better at work," she says.

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Anne Alexander, author of The Sugar Smart Diet, also understands the importance of finding that piece of joy as a way to control stress. "It's vital to commit to R & R; otherwise, chronic stress may eventually gain the upper hand and grind your physical and emotional well-being to dust," she says.

If adding more joy into your life is your goal, Alexander suggests a powerful technique is setting a daily intention. "Setting an intention—a personal goal or hope for the day—each morning can help you make the most of this unique 24-hour slice of your life," she says. Decide that your intention will be to do something that recharges your batteries in a meaningful way.

"There's nothing new about advice to carve out 'me time,'" says Alexander. What is new is the research supporting relaxation, she explains. She points out that studies have found that reading can slash stress by 68 percent. Other research-backed joy-time activities include listening to music, sipping tea, or taking a hot bath.

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