• Shona Dee

Why Time Out From People is Essential for Self-Care

time out essential for self-care

Normally, I would consider myself to be a reasonably enlightened, chill sort of person. I have come a long way in my personal growth journey - thanks in part to two pretty traumatic life upheavals - and know what I need to do in order to keep myself sane. I know that usually, it all comes down to self-care.

Yet this past Christmas season, I haven’t done so well. And part of me now feels that I would do perfectly fine on my own, in a cave somewhere, doing nothing and interacting with no-one. It’s not that I don’t love my family and friends or even that I don’t want to spend time with them.

It’s that I did too much and gave too much of myself and I’m now feeling equal parts exhausted, melancholy, overloaded, overwhelmed and anxious. The thing that triggered this sorry (and quite scary) state?

Not allowing myself time out. Stupidly trying to solve EVERYTHING for EVERYONE. Jumping in and trying to rescue people from their own emotions and feelings and pain – as we all know Christmas can be a time of massively heightened emotions – rather than taking a step back and allowing them, encouraging them, to feel, process and own their own emotions.

By constantly moving one from drama to the next. Quelling arguments, trying to make people feel better (even though I wasn’t feeling great myself), attempting to ease unease, cleaning up mess after mess, putting out fire after fire.

And now that it’s all over, it seems that all I want to do is SLEEP. To close my eyes and escape from the sensory overload. But I shouldn’t have let it get this far. I should have seen the warning signs and known from experience that I needed time out WAY before I granted it to myself.

It’s true that I’m generally an introverted person, and introverts generally do need more alone time than extroverts. Extroverts seem to have a much easier time moving from person to person, drama to drama, event to event.

Yet I believe that we ALL not only benefit from but NEED regular time out to:

  • Remember who we are. To remember that we are all responsible for ourselves, and that none of us are actually attached physically to anybody else

  • Remember that we aren’t responsible for all of the world’s ills. To remember that merely improving ourselves will ultimately help improve the world

Here are three more reasons why time out from people is ESSENTIAL for self-care:

1. Alone time teaches us HOW to be alone

I understand this statement may sound a little cray-cray, but take a moment to think about it. If we are never alone with just our thoughts for company, how can we ever come to learn and appreciate the sheer beauty of knowing who we are – who we really are - without the various labels (wife, mother, daughter) that we assign to ourselves?

Before my divorce, I was often afraid to be alone – I believe now that I actually thrived on having something to solve or fix or be upset about.

I would hungrily accept the advice and opinions of everyone around me, assuming that they were better qualified than me to fix the ills of my life. Problem was, other people often saw faults and problems were there were none – or at least none that needed immediate fixing.

Yet because I was so reliant on others for a sense of identity, I couldn’t see this. I would blindly take on board all that was said to me and subsequently lay awake at night in an anxious sweat wondering how the hell I was going to fix it all.

When my husband unexpectedly left me, I was literally forced to spend time alone – a lot of it. Not surprisingly I hated it at first. I was WAY out of my comfort zone. I had no-one to immediately turn to when a so-called ‘problem’ arose - until the day I realised that I could turn to MYSELF.

I finally realised that I could look within for the truth and trust that most of the time my intuition was spot on. I actually had most of the answers inside me! What a revelation that was.

2. Time out allows us to RECHARGE

If I don’t give myself ‘time out’ to recharge, particularly during busy/stressful/highly emotional times, I suffer sensory overload. I struggle to see left from right, up from down, right from wrong. Life and everything in between becomes a blur of stress, and this is when I am most likely to ignore myself - my intuition - and simply ride from drama to drama.

THEN I lose myself to insomnia, stomach cramps, anxiety, headaches and worst of all, anger.

Simply put, we need our own SPACE – regularly – in order to rest, recharge and grow. I believe that we simply cannot perform at our best, or be our very best selves, if we are constantly surrounded by the stress, noise and conflicting ideas of other people – well-meaning or not.

3. Alone time helps us end the COMPARISON game

We are all unique beings with unique flaws and talents. Yet in the mess and chaos of life it can be very easy to forget this truth. If we don’t regularly check in with ourselves, we forget who we TRULY are. We look at other people and compare ourselves with them - and usually end up thinking that they are doing better than us.

Yet here’s the thing:

We are all different. We all pretend we are doing better than we are. None of us really know what we’re doing. We’re all on a learning curve and we are all doing the best we can with our limited circumstances and resources.

If we constantly surround ourselves with other people and allow ourselves to become lost in the crowds, we miss out on the inner peace and reflection that can only really come from being on our own. We miss out on the opportunity to learn that there really is no need for comparison to others. That we really are enough as we are! What a terrible lesson to miss out on.

Do you feel that you get enough alone time? Do you love it or hate it? Please, let me know in the comments.

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