Relax and Enjoy? Recover time for MYSELF? You have got to be kidding me! Have you seen my schedule? Where exactly do you think I can find that kind of time???
Finding time for ourselves to relax and enjoy life is one of the most difficult things to do, but also one of the most necessary. Without a little down time, we hit that burnout threshold all too quickly. Finding personal time helps you to balance. It helps you to clear the mind clutter, and be able to sort things into true priorities. Quiet time is a form of self-maintenance, and gives us the rest we need and the reduction of stress we need to shed.
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But Where Do I Find the Time?
The first step is to keep a notebook for two weeks to one month. Jot down everything you do during the day. Is it carpooling or commuting? Do you have an all too frequent date with television? Before you can figure out where to save time for you to relax and enjoy, you need to know where you are currently spending all of your time.
The second step is to take a hard look at your calendar. Is there anything on it that can be removed?
Try a Few of these Tips to Lighten your Load:
Learn to say ‘No’ – all too often we add things to our hectic schedules because we haven’t learned the important lesson of saying ‘No’. Make it a practice to think first before agreeing to do something. Will you enjoy it? Can you honestly squeeze it into your schedule? Only agree to do things you honestly want or need to do. Then learn the art of saying ‘No’ with grace.
Examine the Kid’s Schedule – Is it really necessary (or cost-effective) for your children to be in after-school activities five days a week – plus ‘game’ days on Saturday? Consider the time spent taking them to and from these activities. Instead, ask them to choose one or two, and take the rest off of your schedule and theirs.
Enjoyment – Measure the amount of enjoyment you get out of each activity on your calendar. Granted, we may not ‘enjoy’ going to work, but we have no choice. But if other things on your schedule aren’t necessary, strike of those things you just do not like doing.
Limit It – Instead of trying to do it all at once, choose the top one or two activities you truly love to do. Set aside the others for later.
I absolutely loved playing Bunco. The game was fun, but the women in the group were amazing, and so much fun to be around. But the time and travel finally became too much. It broke my heart, but realistically, I know it was the right thing to do. So I quit the group and moved on to other things I needed to do.
Now that you have cleared your calendar, it is time to add back to it. However, this is going to be things FOR YOU, not everyone else!
What does Relax and Enjoy Mean?
Determine activities you love doing. Make a list, and over the course of the next month, schedule in YOU time.
Schedule at least one hour a week, even if you have to break it into half-hour segments. Or, if you have cleared out enough time, schedule one full hour two times a week. Schedule a half-day to a full day one time each month as well.
Not sure how to fill up that time? Try a few of these and see how you like them!
Learn to Relax and Enjoy by starting with Thirty Minute Segments
Take a Walk – this activity can combine multiple activities at once. First, you get exercise and a breath of fresh air. Second, if you have the capability, you can listen to music, a podcast or even access an audiobook.
Read a Book – Curl up in your favorite chair, and grab a book you have been meaning to read. Even if you only have time for one chapter, you have given yourself to focus on something outside your everyday life.
Crafting – Put on some favorite music and work on a craft project. For thirty-minute increments, knitting, crochet and embroidery are excellent crafts to pursue.
Take a Bubble Bath – spoil yourself a little. Fill your tub with warm water, and add a good dose of your favorite scented bubbles. Slide in, lean back and close your eyes. Do your best to think about nothing at all, or pleasant thoughts. This is one of my go-to activities when I need to just relax and enjoy!
Exercise – If you have the equipment, schedule thirty minutes to work off excess energy. If you don’t have the equipment, put on a video, or just some music and do your own version. Nothing relieves stress more than working up a good sweat!
One Hour Activities
Any of the Above – take any item from the 30-Minute List and stretch it into an hour.
Personal Spa Day – don’t just limit yourself to a bubble bath. Go ahead and give yourself a facial, a manicure and/or pedicure. Treat yourself to a spa day without having to leave the house.
Gardening – Go ahead and get dirty! Head to the garden to plant, pull weeds or harvest some fresh greens and veggies for dinner tonight. The focus and repetitive work required to weed is a great time to clear your thoughts. When you step out of the garden, you not only have fresh vegetables, but a fresh mind as well!
Research a New Project – What new project has caught your eye, but you didn’t think you had time to pursue? Now is the time to see what it will take to tackle it, and if it is something you can afford – time and money-wise – to begin.
Journal – Grab your journal and a pen, and head outside. Whether it is a prayer bench by a pond or a dollar store lawn chair, settle in and start writing!
Half Day Activities to Relax and Enjoy
Take a Class – most colleges offer Adult Education Classes that incorporate classes from computers and photography to ethnic cooking and painting. Find somewhere who offers something you want to learn, and get started learning something new!
Visit a Museum – Whether history, art or garden related, take yourself to another world. Stroll the halls or grounds and enjoy the quiet, as well as the aesthethics of the time alone.
Hide in the Stacks – if you really love to read, or want to do some research on a new project, visit your local library. Not only is it quiet, but you have a wealth of reading and research material at your fingertips!
Dinner Out – not many people are comfortable with going to restaurants alone, but this is one of my favorite things to do. If I have to go into town, I usually schedule lunch at a favorite sandwich shop. While I enjoy my meal, I have time to catch up on my reading. This is the perfect time to grab some personal time right in the middle of necessary errands!
Date Night – If you have a significant other or spouse, schedule at least one night a month away from the house and responsibilities. If you can’t afford a movie or dinner out, pack a picnic and head to a local park. Ask them along on a trip to the museum. Take in a class together.
A Full Day to Relax and Enjoy!
Take a Day Trip – whether with friends or a significant other, choose a place to go and just hang out. It may be a day spent at garage sales, or a trip to the ‘big city’ for a play.
The Country Boy and I try to take one day trip a year. Our favorite is the Lorranger, Louisiana Old Farmers Day. We enjoy watching the draft horses and work, watching the demonstrations, and even picking up a small trinket or two to use as future Christmas gifts.
Join a Club or Group – book clubs, knitting groups, community gardens – there are endless ideas for spending a day being productive and socializing. Think about what you love to do, and see if there is a local group you can join. No groups? Then find like-minded people and start one yourself!
Volunteer – There are endless opportunities to volunteer your time. Find a worthwhile cause and sign up. Most groups are desperate to find folks who are willing to work.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to incorporate some personal time into your schedule to relax and enjoy life. By clearing your calendar of unnecessary clutter and activities, you can instead do things you love to do.
Your next step is to look forward to the time you have planned, relax and enjoy!