‘Me time’ — a necessity or luxury?

You are in control of your life and it is completely up to you to lead a better lifestyle 

IN TODAY’S fast-paced world and demanding schedule, one cannot help but take a step back to recharge. 

You’ve probably heard the phrase “You can’t pour from an empty vessel”. It means that if you pour all your energy into supporting everyone else, you’ll eventually end up empty and incapable to support anyone, not even yourself. You must take some “me time” occasionally, so that you can rest, refuel and recharge. 

This can be in the form of relaxing at home, enjoying nature, watching movies, or as simple as reading a book. Most often than not, these activities usually to be enjoyed on our own. 

As Carrie Bradshaw, the fictional character from “Sex and the City”, puts it: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” 

Of late, many people start using the term “me time” and self-care to prioritise themselves. According to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, “me time” is defined as the time when a person, who is normally very busy, relaxes or does something they enjoy. 

We are guilty of always putting other things before ourselves because “it can wait”, up to a point where your mind and body crashed and refused to function as you experience brain fog, tiredness, illness or even not enough sleep. 

Unfortunately, in Malaysia, there seems to be a growing culture of overworking. The 2019 Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Survey by AIA Vitality reported that 51% of employees suffer from at least one dimension of work-related stress. 

It is also worrying to see that 2.3% of Malaysian adults, or about half a million people, suffer from depression, based on the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey. 

You’re not selfish for thinking about yourself, nor are you lazy for needing time for yourself. You are, however, in control of your life, and it is completely up to you to make “me time” your priority to lead a better lifestyle and develop better mental health and self-worth. 

Whether we believe it or not, our mind and body are connected, and for our mind and body to function optimally, they need to be in sync. When they aren’t, you may notice changes in both. 

Stress and tension may manifest themselves in your body as aches and pains like stomach cramping, back or neck aches or even migraines. And the same principle applies in reverse. If you have a physical injury that restricts you from undertaking usual activities, you may notice a change in mood, motivation, or concentration. 

It is amazing how our mind and body communicate with us, and regularly undertaking me time allows us to understand the messages and take actions according to what you need to be healthy. 

How exactly do you be present during “me time”? Again, this can be different for everyone, but breathing and focus are key ingredients. Consciously taking deep breaths in and out allows your body to turn off any stress-induced “fight or flight” mode that may be subconsciously switched on, and reset you to “rest and digest” mode. 

As you take deep breaths, focus on different parts of your body, reconnecting your mind and body. Become aware of every single part of what makes you — YOU. 

If you have any mind or body concerns, complaints or aches — focus on them. Don’t avoid any thoughts or concerns, delve into them. Talk to yourself internally. Ask yourself what might be causing the issues and solve the problem(s). If there’s a problem you can’t solve, that’s okay, but remind yourself that you’re safe. 

You won’t always know the answers, but accepting that will still do wonders for you. Getting in tune with your mind and body isn’t hard, but it does take concerted effort. 

“Me time” helps you heal and grow as a person, becoming a better parent, partner, child, friend or worker. “Me time” isn’t selfish, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and for the people you care most about in your life.

Intan Baha is a copy editor at The Malaysian Reserve. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition