Make Time for You: Simple Strategies to Prioritize Self-Care and Boost Your Mental Health

Time is said to be the great equaliser, we all have the same number of hours in the day, it’s what we do with them that makes the difference. However we live in a hustle culture, and while that is changing, it’s still a very deep-rooted concept that we should be using our time ‘wisely’, to take action, to work harder, to hustle as hard as we can for as long as we can. 

Many of us live in a cycle of waking up, working, eating, falling into bed exhausted, and repeating. A lot of people struggle with feelings of guilt when it comes to taking time to rest; a sense that even their days off have to be used productively, that downtime, or ‘me time’ or the self-care time has to be earned. 

But here’s the thing: no one else is going to give you the permission you are waiting for to take the rest you know you need. And here’s the other thing, the consequence of not making that time is burnout. 

So let’s come back to that key point: time. We all wish we had more of it, but we’re all stuck with the same 24 hours each day. When I talk about self-care, one of the top questions that come up is “how do I make more time for self-care?” the answer to that boils down to time; how we manage our time, how we prioritise our time how much value we give to our time. 

Before we can learn how to make more time for self-care we first have to look at how we manage our time in general because we can’t actually make more hours in the day, but we can try and figure out where we’re using our time and what we’re spending it on so that we have more of it to give back to ourselves.

Step 1: track your time

The first step to finding or ‘making’ more time for self-care and rest, is to step back and look at how you are currently using your time. You can do this as detailed or as simply as you like but for a week, track in some way how you spend each hour of your day on different days. 

Step 2: categorise your time spending

Look at your time tracking notes and categorise the different things you are spending time on. For example how much in total each day and each week do you spend at work? How much time do you spend on your phone or social media? Put similar tasks together and calculate daily time totals and weekly time totals for each just like you might if you were making a financial budget. 

Step 3: reflect on your time data

What are you spending the most time on? What could you spend less time on? Look over your time totals and begin to reflect on what categories you could take or borrow time from for self-care instead. 

Step 4: make a self-care plan

To make a meaningful change we have to be prepared to take small right actions towards what we want. So, if your goal is to get more sleep, have more time for rest or have more time for self-care activities, use what you know about how you use your time to plan how you can make time for what you want. 

That might be as small as reading a book after work instead of watching TV or taking a walk during your lunch break instead of scrolling on your phone. Think carefully about what your goals are and how you can change your current time habits to make them happen. 

Step 5: hold yourself accountable!

Tracking your time, collecting the ‘data’ and making a plan is the easy part - putting it into action and sticking to it is much harder. So find a way to hold yourself accountable. You could create a habit tracker in your journal or download a habit-tracking app. You could even set reminders and alarms to keep your mind focused on your time and self-care goals. 

Learn how to make a time budget in this episode of Fill Up Your Cup. 

If you want to learn more about creating healthier time habits and freeing up more time for self-care, then listen to this episode of Fill Up Your Cup Podcast.

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