The importance of “me time”.

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We are living increasingly busy and stressful lives these days. For most of us there is so much to juggle from day to day. Whether it be work, study, family, social commitments or otherwise, we can often be left feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. We also generally have less of a community and family support network around us than previous generations so can sometimes be left feeling as though we are facing a lot of it alone. The stress of trying to be “perfect” can leave us feeling anxious and unwell. It doesn’t help that we have the added anxiety of “lifestyle envy” that social media has created. Browsing through friends and celebrities Twitter and Instagram feeds can leave us feeling distinctly under par and as though we are underachieving ourselves. Keeping control of your own life whilst at the same time keeping up with the Jones’ is an exhausting task and eventually something has to give. Often the first sign that we are taking on too much comes from our bodies and if we are not listening to their subtle messages and cries for help eventually they may shut down in order to force us to take a break. This exact thing happened to me about a year and a half after my daughter was born. I had a pretty good, short labour with no complications but immediately after the birth I continued to lose quite a lot of blood to the degree that doctors considered giving me a blood transfusion. Luckily in the end they decided it wouldn’t be necessary. We took Aurélia home the next day and I set about breastfeeding and looking after our tiny newborn as best I could. Hubby returned to work two weeks later and although I had a lot of help from my mum, the adjustment to parenting was a big one. Apart from the hugely demanding physical challenge that comes with lack of sleep and breastfeeding there is also an enormous emotional one that comes with adjusting to your new life as a parent. I’ve heard that in Ayurvedic medicine they consider that it takes a whole year for a woman’s body to fully recover from pregnancy, birth and caring for a young child. After a wonderful but exhausting year of coping with a new baby and a very busy husband who was often away I finally admitted to myself that I probably needed extra help so we took on a nanny to help out one day a week. This definitely lightened my load although initially I wasn’t great at handing over the reigns!

Then in August the following year, with Aurélia now at 20 months old and hubby just starting back at work, I stated feeling a little dizzy and light-headed. I went to the doctor who diagnosed Labrinthitis, an infection of the inner ear. Two days later I woke up feeling so ill that within an hour Brendan had decided to phone for an ambulance. At this point I genuinely thought I was going to die (I promise I’m not a drama queen)! I was rushed to A&E and spent the day on a drip before being discharged the next day. I continued to be very ill at home for the next couple of weeks and had to take some pretty serious drugs. I still can’t go on the roundabout in the park with Aurélia! It turned out I’d had a pretty nasty viral infection but now I look back it was clear that I hadn’t been looking after myself properly. A few months after having Aurélia I weighed less than my pre-baby weight, not through trying but through being exhausted and not making time to eat or drink properly (thankfully I’m back to normal now). My body had literally had to shut down to force me to rest and look after myself. Being this ill had given me a big wake-up call. I have since spoken to many other people who have suffered from Labrinthitis and all say it came at a time when they were particularly busy, stressed and run-down. During my recuperation I made a pact to regularly make time for me. After all if I didn’t look after myself I wasn’t going to be able to look after my family!

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I do appreciate that not everyone is in a position or even wishes to employ someone to take on some of the load so that they can have time out for themselves but there are other things you may be able to do. Perhaps ask a family member to take the kids for an hour a week or arrange for another parent to take them to an after-school club. Could that hour on Facebook in the evenings be time better spent? Can you walk to school/work and have time for your thoughts instead of chatting on the phone on the bus/train? When you realise the importance of “me time” for your health and sanity you often realise there are other, less important things that can probably wait.

Now my daughter is at nursery a few days a week I always try to set aside a morning or afternoon to dedicate entirely to wellbeing and pampering. Basically this is time spent solely on doing anything that makes one feel good! Below are some of the things that I like to do to make me feel healthy, happy and rested and ready to face the world! These can be done on their own or combined to make a whole morning/day of delicious pampering. On the other hand some of these things can take as little as 10 minutes. The important thing is to be fully present in the moment and in each task. This is what’s known as mindfulness.

Exercise – Before I had Aurelia I used to be a real fan of the gym but nowadays I find I can’t get there often enough to justify the price of membership. Instead I like to attend yoga and Pilates classes nearby or if I’m really short on time I will practice at home for half an hour even taking my practice outside if the weather is nice. Sometimes it seems hard to work up the energy or motivation but I tell myself I’ll just start and see how it goes. I almost always get into it pretty much as soon as I begin and feel much better afterwards. Even  just 10 minutes of stretching has health benefits for your body and mind. I also love to get outside for a run or a power walk. I’m lucky enough to live in beautiful countryside which I love but if the area you live or work in isn’t inspiring you, perhaps you can get in the car or on a train and find somewhere nearby that does! Apart from the benefits of exercise there are also health benefits to being outdoors. In the summer vitamin D from sunlight is one but being outside amongst nature at any time and whatever the weather will lift your spirits and can leave you feeling more positive. It’s great to be able to switch off from everyday stresses and fully take in the beauty of your surroundings but if you really can’t afford the time I find that stepping away from the computer and mentally taking a project outside for a walk with you can give you better perspective and increase productivity.

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Juicing – I bought a juicer a couple of years ago in order to get more nutrients into my diet. It’s a fairly quick process but I love the act of chopping and juicing all the yummy vegetables knowing that they are going to fill me with goodness and increase my energy. I like to make this a part of a half or full day pampering routine and combine it with some exercise and then a lovely long relaxing bath. I like to alternate juices depending on what I feel my body needs but one of my favourite all rounders is a simple and delicious Apple, Carrot, Beetroot and Ginger. While fruit undeniably has health benefits in the form of vitamins and nutrients it can also be very high in Fructose (fruit sugars) without containing fibre to slow their absorption. It’s much better to stick mainly to veggies which have less sugar and more nutrients, and just add the odd fruit in here and there.

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Meditation and Mindfulness – I’ve covered this one briefly before in a previous post (My top 10 tips for healthy living). Meditation has proven health benefits including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving attention span and creativity. I first became aware of meditation whilst at high school. We had a religious studies teacher, Dr.Thompson who used to begin each class with a short meditation session. As you can imagine this didn’t go down so well with a bunch of fourteen year olds! The thing is, meditation works if you give in to it. Practice can be hard at first but this is why it is called practice. Very few people get into a deep meditative state on their own the first time. You can find some great meditations online or why not try a class? Lots of Yoga centres have classes solely dedicated to meditation.

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Pamper time – Ok everybody can manage this one! This is about pure relaxation and fulfilment. What are the things that you love to do but feel are luxuries that you don’t really have time for? Here’s the thing…  If they make you feel great they are important! Schedule it in as you would a piece of work and give it the same importance. I love to light some candles, run a bath filled with my fave aromatherapy oils and play relaxing music but it could be as simple as taking 10 minutes to yourself to read a great book or apply a face mask. Whatever you choose, enjoy it and don’t you dare feel guilty. You’re worth it! The people who rely on you need you at your tip-top, sparkly best!

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15 thoughts on “The importance of “me time”.

  1. Reblogged this on Mo's Wanderlist and commented:
    Worked so much the last period, today I felt like sh*t. So had to listen to my body once again and take a step back, meaning skipping a come back day of the course. Which made me feel a little guilty because I appreciate their effort so much, but! The last piece of this article reminded me of my objection to my myths of “weakness” ”Whatever you choose, enjoy it and don’t you dare feel guilty.” It’s allowed to feel your own needs 😉 Give it a read! It’s a great one

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  2. I know how you feel with ear problems. I have vertigo as my balance organs do not work well. I had physiotherapy to retrain my brain how to convert the signals from my eyes into balancing me. I also learnt that bring hydrated, not hungry etc can help. I know the triggers now and with medication can be “normal” just don’t ask me to spin around!!!! However when I am tired etc I am more vulnerable to a bad phase so your blog hit home!

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  3. One thing that I really like about your blog is when you note that not everyone can afford to do things so suggesting things “I do appreciate that not everyone is in a position or even wishes to employ someone to take on some of the load so that they can have time out for themselves but there are other things you may be able to do. Perhaps ask a family member to take the kids for an hour a week or arrange for another parent to take them to an after-school club” is really helpful. I find that a lot of the other blogs especially from celebrities suggest things that are beyond my budget.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s really wonderful to have feedback especially when it’s so positive! Your point about budget is a good one and I’m so pleased you noticed. I’m very aware of not wanting to alienate anyone or make them feel bad or excluded. I truly believe that health and happiness should be accessible to all and not dependant on budget. 😘

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  4. I really enjoy reading your blogs and find them so helpful. I am in a position now when I can have lots of ‘me time’. I looked after my elderly mother who had severe dementia for several years. She passed away last year at the age of 91. I have recently started going to yoga classes, Bollywood Dance and I am starting pilates tomorrow.
    It is very important for younger women with children to have some ‘me time’.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.Xx

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments. So sorry for your loss. A great age to achieve though! You’re mum would be thrilled I’m sure, that you are out and about having fun. Enjoy Pilates. 😀

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  5. I enjoyed reading your article and can definitely relate!!!!!! Very guilty of no me time and dare I say it for some reason it has got worse and my kids are grown up!!! Being older and with health issues I have so much more interest in good healthy food, exercise and well being so I think your next business venture when hubby is busy with SCD is “Cole bootcamp” You need to take someone like me in and re educate the palate to make me enjoy healthy smoothies etc and teach meditation techniques, lots of walks in your lovely countryside and if husband gets home at all some dance moves to burn off the fat and I could return a new woman! . I say that not as a joke.You have so much passion for your subject and lifestyle it makes me want that life too. I am sure you could convert me.I have never had any desire to go to Mallorca but I do now after reading your article on it. You write honestly and that is my biggest belief in life.If you are honest in everything you do and how you treat people you will succeed .Having watched your husband’s show last year his success is his passion for what he does which oozes from him all the time.You have the same passion for lifestyle.Have the confidence to widen your audience ,only if you want to, as you can take your message anywhere as you believe in what you are saying and doing.Use your talent wisely.People have commented on how you are aware of the cost elements in life.Healthy eating and living is not cheap.Health farms etc are not in everyone’s budget.There is a niche out there waiting to be filled?!!!
    Keep writing and if ever you need a Guinea pig to convert to a totally healthy person I am a willing candidate!
    Thanks for the inspiring articles.
    Jill x

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    1. Jill, thank you so much for your incredibly kind words. They almost bought I tear to my eye! I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog and if I can encourage even one person to make positive changes and improve their quality of life then wow! I’ll be a very happy girl. Thanks for your ideas and encouragement and I wish you every success on your journey. X

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  6. Really have enjoyed reading all your blog posts Zoe, very informative and interesting. Your latest blog hit home with me….dizziness… I suffer with vertigo and appreciate how awful that spinning feeling can be. How wonderful and rewarding the idea of ‘me’ time, something us women somehow feel we are not worthy of….but in fact we are all so worthy of a break from constant everyday routine, as you say, it maybe just a short while to stop….choose something you really enjoy and escape for some worthy ‘me’ time. I know I am more prone and vulnerable to dizzy spells when I am dehydrated, very tired, slowly but surely I had to learn the hard way ….I had to take time out to start to feel well again. Hope you are now keeping well Zoe.
    Keep blogging….I look forward to your next post, thanks for sharing your experiences…..not on your own….I could not spin on a roundabout ! X

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  7. Thank you Zoe for sharing something so personal, and so eloquently too. It takes a lot of courage and its obvious you speak from the heart. I’m currently having cognitive behavioural therapy to help combat stress and anxiety aggravated by a horrible work situation and am finding that as well as the therapy, healthy eating and just going for a walk every day helps just as much to get back on an “even keel” mentally. You have inspired me to look up yoga classes near me! Please continue your great writing xxx

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  8. …. plus I find that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. I live on my own and frequently cook in batches, often making a big pan of something that then makes 4/5 portions for the freezer. Then just steam some veg, boil some brown rice / pasta etc and you’ve got a dinner done. Costs pennies per portion and only takes 20 minutes after a long day! Much easuer than starting cooking from scratch each day xxx

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  9. Thank you, from tired Mummy of a one year old, existing on coke, chocolate, wine and fresh air! With your blog, Deliciously Ella and my nutri bullet feeling armed and inspired to get back to a healthy family. It is a great approach you have to write with your readers in mind, and not just write for yourself. Thank you for reviewing things that are accessible to many and realistic to follow.
    P.S I’d love to know the best juice you think to help kick the sugar habit! X

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  10. A little late to the party with this one, but I found yours such a thoughtful and open post, so here goes.. It is so tough being a new mum (or hands on dad for that matter!), and something many people can relate to. You know life is going to change but nothing can really prepare you for how brilliant yet all encompassing it is.
    In my experience the pregnancy was great but the labour was late, induced, long and resulted in a difficult birth, and me being a little poorly afterwards. Going from that into the challenge of breast feeding, sleepless nights and general newborn baby stuff that you mention was probably the toughest challenge we have ever faced. It hadn’t crossed my mind that hubbies two weeks paternity leave would be spent looking after me as much as the baby!
    With all our focus on baby (and we were so lucky to have a healthy, thriving baby) I didn’t notice I was losing a lot of weight until the damage was done. Once muscle has gone it is mighty tough to get back. In fact, until breast feeding had completely finished and I was sitting at a desk three days a week, and with reasonable (though still broken!) sleep, I didn’t stand a chance of getting my healthy body back. For me this was when my son was about 20 months. This is also when I started trying to get to the classes I had enjoyed pre-baby – yoga, Pilates and zumba – but being indoors and in the evening wasn’t really doing it for me anymore. The real win for me came when boot camp classes were introduced at my workplace. Held outside on the fresh air (my natural habitat !) they are now my regular ‘me time’ offering social time as well as exercise and outdoor head space.
    My son is now two and I hope this spring we will be enjoying more of our pre-baby hobbies such as gardening and cycling, but I have also seen this new phase of life as an opportunity to try new things that are easier to fit into the weekly schedule.
    Good luck with your journey too.

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    1. What a lovely message Louise. Thank you. Yes being a new mum or indeed a mum is incredibly hard and often people feel they will appear weak by admitting so. I’m so glad you are getting back into a routine and doing something for you. It’s so important. Keep up the good work. You’re doing brilliantly! X

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