Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.
Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Once a week, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.
Get at least a half hour of alone time every day.
What it is
I love my alone time, but ever since I gave birth to my son a year and a half ago, my precious time to myself has been drastically reduced. Which is why I make a point of having at least an hour of alone time every day, because when I don’t, my mood suffers.
For whenever you’re feeling
Get some alone time if you’re feeling stressed out; if you want to read a book/play video games/craft/take a bath, etc.; if you’re exhausted from spending the day with your kids; if you want to gather your thoughts without interruption; if you need a break; if you want to enjoy your own company.
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How it can help
When I don’t get alone time every day, my stress levels soar, my mood sours, and I usually end up snapping — at my husband, at my kid, and basically everyone else in my vicinity.
Alone time helps me recalibrate after a stressful day at work, and also after coming home to wrangle a toddler who won’t sit still and throws as much food as he can at our dog.
So, somewhere between when my kid goes to bed and I go to bed, I grab a room for myself and spend an hour doing things I enjoy, whether it’s reading, browsing YouTube videos, sewing, or watching a TV show. It’s not about productivity, it’s about doing things I love, and it instantly makes me feel more relaxed and able to handle the next day’s stressors.
According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, a psychologist, alone time helps you “reboot your brain and unwind.”
“Constantly being ‘on’ doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself,” Carter wrote in Psychology Today. “Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.”
Alone time can improve your relationships with loved ones
I know I’m a better parent and employee when I have regular me-time. On weekends, my husband takes our kid out in the morning, and I have a few hours where I can do whatever I want. Sometimes it’s yoga, other times it’s reading a book at a coffee shop. Whatever I end up doing, I feel so much more refreshed and present when they come home.
“You ... may come to appreciate your relationships more after you’ve spent some time alone,” notes Carter.
I’m more patient with my toddler, I’m more excited to play with him, and I appreciate my husband a lot more. Alone time makes me value my loved ones, and makes me a better partner and mom.
Alone time helps you discover (or rediscover) more about yourself and your interests
Although being alone can be intimidating (“What do I do now?” is something I constantly ask myself when I have a few hours alone) it forces me to get to know myself better. Turns out, I’m pretty cool!
“Cultivating this sense of being alone and making the choice to be alone can help you to develop who you are, your sense of self, and what your true interests are,” Angela Grice, a speech language pathologist, told The New York Times.
What I’ve learned is that I’m a big crafter: I love sewing, cross-stitching, and embroidery, and I look forward to my free time when I can do the things I love.
It also gets me thinking more about myself and my goals, without outside influence. Sometimes, I think about where I want to be in five, or 10 years, and write down my thoughts. It’s a great practice that holds me accountable and gets me excited for future projects.
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How to start
Even though I love my alone time, it can be challenging to carve space for it — there always seems to be something that needs to be done around the house, or important news to read, or work to catch up on. But if I don’t get alone time, I’m a mess.
Here are some ways to help you find time for yourself:
Wake up a half hour earlier (or go to bed a half hour later) when other people in your home are asleep so you can use that time to relax, recharge, and do something just for yourself.
Set an alarm on your phone so that you have regular, scheduled alone time that you have to stick with.
Explain to your partner why you need alone time; it’s not about them, it’s about your need to recharge and reflect. If you’re not sure how to approach your partner, or you have an unreasonable partner, check out these tips to get what you need.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to “create” or be productive; this time is for doing whatever you want.
If you’re struggling getting alone time at home, take a time out during work hours: go for a walk around the block or take your lunch to the park.
Where you can do it
Wherever you’re comfortable! When I’m at home in the evening, I like to retreat to my bedroom, or a different floor than where my husband and kid are, close the door and just zen out.
Alone time can look however you want it to, so you can go outside for a walk, or chill out at a cafe, or have a brunch date with yourself, or curl up with a book at the library. Your options are limitless!
And that’s your habit of the day.
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