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The importance of having “me time”

By Ann Choi, 2nd-year Concurrent Education student

At university, it is sometimes difficult to find “me time” because of busy schedules and social lives. This was especially true for me in my first year at university. Although I met a lot of wonderful new friends, learned a great deal from my studies, and experienced great growth through living independently, I realized I neglected to have “me time”.

“Me” time can mean having fun or relaxing with friends, but for me, “me time” is often something different. As an introvert, I cannot recharge my inner battery by being with friends (even when they are very close to me). By “me time”, I mean time spent on reflecting on myself and recharging my inner battery. This is important, as I found especially this year: when I feel frustrated, my stress and low coping skills come from not knowing myself enough. If I do not recharge my battery, I forget my inner values and only place importance on superficial, material things. This year, I realized how crucial it is to reflect upon my day. Even when the day went badly, I now take time to think through and understand myself. This has helped me to cope with stress and take a more optimistic stance towards even stressful events.

What would “me time” look like to you? It can be anything! If you are more of an extroverted person, perhaps it is time you spend with your closest friend, drinking tea in peace in a small, snug café with a large, white mug firmly nestled in your hands and talking about everything that stressed you out for the past few days. Listening to your friend may be part of your “me time” — listening and offering advice, and through this gaining better understanding of your friend, your relationships with others in general, and yourself. After the tea, you may feel a lot more reinvigorated after a tiring day and ready to start another day afresh.

If you are more of an introverted person like me, your “me time” may look more like this: you are worried about school, and you think that you should probably finish your readings. Everything else except extra-curricular or readings feel like a waste of your time, but you feel so stressed and upset that you can’t focus. Your alarm rings. Some time ago you promised yourself some “me time” every day. You start writing. You become increasingly immersed in your own creative world, and when 30 minutes pass by, you sigh and reluctantly put down your pencil and paper. Creative writing has recharged you. It is what you wanted to do, and it helped you to sharpen your focus and feel more fulfilled in life.

But… What if you really do not have time to recharge yourself? For example, at the most busy period, you may have one midterm, one essay, and two small quizzes due tomorrow with other extracurricular activities. You feel stressed, and feel your productivity ebbing away, but there is really no time to recharge. At this time, there seems to be little that you can do. Such feelings often confront university students, and the best way to avoid this is to prepare ahead. Create a term-calendar, and plan your day days and weeks in advance. If you spot those days when there are multiple essays, midterms, quizzes, and presentations, start your work in advance, and schedule in at least thirty minutes of recharge time per day. Follow the 50-10 rule: work fifty minutes and take ten minutes to recharge, reflect, write, talk to your friend, or even do yoga! It is amazing how much you can do in a short amount of time, and how much “me time” you can find when you plan ahead.

Remembering your values is important, especially at times when you feel most stressed from all the work that seems to pile on your shoulders. Knowing yourself will help to sharpen your focus and relax even during the most stressful times, and as November approaches with all its projects, midterms, essays, and upcoming finals, you know YOU CAN DO IT!

Photo courtesy of Ian Sane under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.