If you’re anything like me, you sometimes need a break and a bit of me-time. I enjoyed my recent hiatus from column deadlines. I luxuriated in long hikes, took writing classes, prepared for the release of a new children’s book, escaped into novels, worked on my soft-touch dinking strategy for pickleball, and tried to power up my tennis serve. (I still have a way to go on that goal.) For weeks, I wasn’t jotting down notes on odd pieces of paper about things I wanted to add to a column. I indulged myself.
Google defines me-time as “time spent relaxing on one's own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy.” It’s time taken to recharge your battery. In my mind, it’s relaxation which can be appreciated alone or with others.
I convinced my husband to join me on my favorite recent me-time diversion. We biked to Crystal Lake Campground near Sayner, Wisconsin. After winding along Boulder Junction’s impressive bike trails, I sighted the lake. Only a handful of people roamed around the welcoming sandy beach. Motorized boats aren’t allowed so sounds ranged from bird songs in the spring to acorns dropping from oaks in the fall. We lazily sat at a picnic table and soaked it all in. After a while, I waded in the cool water and thought of a family who annually wades around the entire lake. They meander along the perfect beach, splash in the shallow water if they get warm, and rest in the warm sand if needed.
I’ve learned it’s best to schedule me-time by adding it to the family calendar. This past month, I added “Devil’s Lake” to the agenda. My family wandered through this park that I take for granted. Hiking on ancestral Ho-Chunk land and seeing the impressive burial mounds stirred my imagination. There are actual bodies buried right here! Afterward, we sipped drinks and savored a relaxing meal at Tumbled Rock.
Another day we meandered on hilly scenic roads to Oakwood Fruit Farm in Richland Center to sample varieties of fall apples, cider, and flaky apple turnovers. We poked around the gift shop and picked up apple cider doughnuts to go. Yum!
Me-time doesn’t necessarily involve going anywhere. Some of my favorite “me moments” were spent in my comfy chair on the sun porch with a cup of coffee and a book.
Alone time allows us to let our minds wander and can spark new ideas. Yesterday I hiked through damp fall leaves smelling of fall and thought about this column. Writers like Thoreau and Hemingway benefited from taking breaks so they could gather their thoughts. Artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and inventors like Edison knew they needed quiet, uninterrupted creation time.
Me-time is also beneficial for mental health. Are you the type of person who always puts others first? Heed the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you’re feeling guilty for taking me-time, remember this. Research shows that giving yourself priority improves your mood, memory, and your ability to make decisions. You’ll sleep better and your relationships will improve. Relaxation allows your mind and body to repair itself. So go ahead. plan your me-time.
I’m advising people to schedule in me-time, but I know that you have helpful pieces of advice you’d like to share as well. Please send me a line or two by November 1st, (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll compose a column. Based on your personal experiences, what general life advice would you like to share with us?
I look forward to hearing from you.