It's not always easy to find time to spend with yourself and really check in with you. I know that, even when I'm doing something that's just for me, like going to a museum or even getting a haircut, it can still feel like just another thing on my to-do list, and not particularly emotionally, mentally, or spiritually centering. It's all too easy to go through a whole day without doing anything that even remotely resembles self-care. So if you, like me, plan to focus on figuring out how to take care of your mind in 2018, I can say with certainty that taking 20 minutes every day to devote to you and only you, is a great place to begin. Trust me, you'll start feeling the difference after only a few days of practicing this.
And what exactly is daily "you time," you may ask? Well, it's just that: 20 minutes a day (at least) that you spend with yourself, with the intention of clearing your mind, getting centered, feeling internally in-tune, and checking in with your emotional well-being.
Meditation is a great way to begin thinking about this solo daily activity, since the benefits of a meditation practice are plentiful: It's been shown to lower stress levels, improve focus, self-confidence, and even boost your immunity, to name a few.
But honestly, you don't have to try out meditation. You can get as creative as you'd like with these solo, "you time" activities.
If you're not into it, your 20 minutes of solo time doesn't have to involve sitting on a pillow and listening to a guided breathing meditation. When you get down to it, this time is really about making more space in your everyday life to cultivate soundness and peace of mind, in whatever way works best for you.
So, if meditation's not your thing, consider some other activities you can do by yourself that feel centering and emotionally restorative. Maybe you really like to color, or you'd like to start journaling about your intentions for the week. Maybe you want to just throw on a good playlist and dance all by yourself in your bedroom.
What you do each day can also change as little or as often as you see fit. If one day, you need to lay down on the ground and close your eyes while listening to music, and the next day you need to journal for 10 minutes then stretch for 10 more, that's totally cool. Figure out what truly works for you. Find things that don't feel like a chore, or a task, or aren't otherwise overwhelming in any way.
All in all, the practice of daily solo time is also all about mindfulness.
Mindful activities help you cultivate an ability to be fully immersed in the present moment. You're concentrated only on where your body is at, and what it's doing right here and right now.
Mindfulness not only helps with reducing momentary stress, but it also helps you establish more fruitful, rewarding, moment-to-moment experiences in the rest of your daily life.
The practice of mindfulness can even help train your brain toward being more productive and less distracted when carrying out everyday tasks. A 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Arizona illustrates this very point: The human resources personnel who participated in the study were given training in either mindfulness meditation or body relaxation techniques for eight weeks, and were administered a complicated multitasking test both before and after their training practices. By the end, the participants who practiced meditation were less stressed, they were more focused in completing the given test, they showed increased memory for the tasks at hand, and they even switched tasks less often than the other group.
Spending this type of mindful, quality time with yourself is the best way to take care of both your mental health and your overall well-being.
So, before the ball drops this New Year's Eve, take a few moments to consider how you can commit to giving yourself time to very literally just do you. Whether you set aside that solo time right when you wake up in the morning, or you take a midday break, or even if you decide to make it an evening ritual, set a goal for yourself in 2018 to maintain this practice as a regular part of your routine.
Instead of that tired cliché "new year, new you," what about "new year, do you?" Yeah, I definitely like the sound of that.