Life is busy! Your days are full of work, family responsibilities and social obligations. You wouldn’t dream of dropping the ball on your job, missing a soccer game or opting out of your best friend’s wedding, but something’s got to give. More often than not what you sacrifice is your own peace of mind. 

Do you find yourself stressed out, tired all the time and struggling to enjoy anything? You need some “me time”! Studies have shown that neglecting yourself can have serious negative effects on both your physical health and your psyche. It’s time to say yes to giving yourself a break. Here are a few ways you can do that.

Think Small

First of all, stop pretending that you just don’t have space in your schedule for a little “me time”. You’re not trying to schedule a European holiday or figure out the best time to go to Disneyland. You don’t even need to figure out how to get away for a weekend or even a full day. A few minutes of time focused just on yourself daily or even a few times a week can work wonders.

So think small: 15 uninterrupted minutes with your favorite book, 30 minutes of yoga, an extra-long bath with your favorite bath oils or a walk around the block. Anything that brings you joy, peace and is just for you. Just make sure that everyone knows you are not to be disturbed.

Schedule It

You put everything that’s important to do on your calendar, your “me time” shouldn’t be any different. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it. If it’s in your schedule, you’ll do what you need to do to make it happen.

If you can, make your time a regular occurrence that happens at the same time every day, or every other day – whatever you can make work. If you need to get help to make your time happen, do it. Schedule a regular appointment with a babysitter, or with friends or family or plan ahead with your partner to make sure you don’t have any responsibilities weighing on your mind.

Shut Down Your Devices

Whatever activity you decide to engage in, make sure that you turn off your devices while you’re doing it. The world is not going to catch fire while you take a run around the park. As wonderful as your phones, watches and tablets are, they make you constantly available to be called upon at a moment’s notice. You will be amazed at the freedom you feel when you give yourself a break from that constant digital vigilance. So unless your activity requires the use of a screen, turn it off and focus on enjoying the moment.

Take It Outside

If your activity lends itself to being done outside you should definitely consider it. When you take your “me time” outside, you’ll get the relaxation benefits of personal time along with the many mental health benefits of sunlight and nature.

Multiple studies have shown that time spent outside decreases stress hormones and increases the happy chemicals in our body, like serotonin. In fact, scientific data proves that just being outside in nature can have a positive impact on even clinical levels of depression and anxiety. So, if you want to read try doing it on the porch, if you want to practice yoga put your mat in the back yard or if you want to walk why not do it on a local park trail. 

You give so much to the people around you, but you need to value yourself as well. It can be difficult to take time for yourself, it can feel selfish and self-indulgent. It isn’t. It is necessary to keep you happy and healthy. If you can’t quite give yourself that much importance yet, just remember that if you don’t take time for yourself, eventually you’ll find that you’re not able to be at your best for anyone. The better you treat yourself, the better you’ll be able to be present for everyone else.