Stolen Moments

The Importance of Time to Yourself | Frock Files

The other day, my friend Eling and I were having lunch when I confessed that I hadn’t eaten a real lunch for the three days prior. Lunchtime always seems to happen just when I’m getting into the groove of my work, so I’ll eat an apple in a hurry or grab a handful of crackers, then spend the rest of the afternoon ravenous, eating terribly unhealthy things. Eling pointed out that it’s not just lunch; it’s the same way with reading, exercise — the things that end up making you feel really good.

It’s so easy to become single minded in purpose. Since my work is a hub with many spokes, it’s easy for me to get caught in a loop where I hop from blogging to photography to web design to writing, with the spaces filled in by social media. If it’s not work, it’s taking care of the puppy or our home. And sometimes I have a really hard time breaking away to do the things that make me feel whole. I can only imagine that this is magnified by a hundred for those of you with kids.

Healing = Solitude

I came upon this article by Katrina Kenison from O magazine about the importance of taking time for yourself, and I realized that a large part of what makes those activities of exercise, reading, etc. rejuvenating is that they’re often done in solitude for oneself. Although I work at home and am alone for most of my day, I’m constantly in communication with other people. Kenison writes, “If we are always focused on external stimulation, or even on our relationships, we miss opportunities for inner growth and renewal.”

She points to a story about a woman whose arm went numb, and whose doctor told her to spend a few days in solitude. The woman went to a cabin in the woods and came to terms with the fact that she wanted a divorce but was terrified of the fallout. As she came to grips with her realization, the numbness subsided.

How to Find Time for Yourself

While we aren’t all in need of a major epiphany, making time for ourselves every day is vital, especially during the busy final quarter of the year. It doesn’t have to be much. A cup of tea after dinner; twenty minutes each morning for yoga or a run. If you need help getting this time to yourself, consider asking for it — and offer to help others take time for themselves as well.

My new ritual involves a little exercise each day and shutting off my computer by 6pm. I used to dread making dinner because it was interrupting my work, but with the computer powered down I’m free to turn on some Billie Holiday, pour myself a glass of wine, and actually enjoy making something delicious. I’m also giving myself permission to put Kona in her crate for a nap while I cook, because otherwise she lets out short, shrill barks when I least expect them, scaring the bajeezus out of me. It used to make me feel guilty, but creating these boundaries is actually freeing.

So now I’m curious: how do you make time for yourself? And what do you do with it?


Photo by super photographer Meghann Street

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  1. I have been going through the same thoughts recently. Working from home, you would think that solitude would be easy to find but in fact I find myself not making time for it. I think the illusion of working physically by myself tricks my brain into not recognizing that I need intentional solitude as well. One way I’ve recently been making time for myself is by reading a spiritual or motivational book in the morning (before turning on my computer) and journaling about what I’ve read.

    Sending you good wishes for a happy week!

    • What a fantastic way to bring that sense of peace and openness to your whole day! And I agree that working at home can create a false sense of solitude. I love that you used the phrase “intentional solitude.” That’s exactly right! It’s the intention that changes everything.

  2. “It used to make me feel guilty, but creating these boundaries is actually freeing.”

    Boundries are so important in our modern age. Otherwise it’s a constant stream–no boudries = insanity! One of the ways I take time for myself is to make sure I walk my kids to school. Funny, because I’m with them, but it’s the one time of day when I really get to enjoy myself. I’m outside, fresh air, no technology & I’m getting some exercise. It would be easier to just drive them, but I it’s essential for my mental health (& theirs too).

    I also think a solid dinner time routine is important. I love that you do too. It’s an important ritual that goes way beyond feeding your body.

    • Yes! I totally hear what you’re saying, Janae. Since we got Kona, I’ve spent a lot more time outside and it really does make all the difference. I come from a family that’s big on dinnertime routines, so it feels natural to go back to having one. We always sit down and eat together but for awhile there I was just so lazy about actually cooking the meal.

  3. I love spending time alone. But, with a husband and toddler, it’s a rare luxury now a days. So, since I drive an hour to and from work, I take the my driving time as my me time. I blare the music, I sing, I turn it off sometimes and just bask in the silence or I pray. It’s my favorite time of the day, besides the time I get to spend cuddling my little one at night, of course. : )

    • What an awesome way to turn that commute around! I think James enjoys the peace on his commute too. It’s nice to have a place and a period of time to decompress before making the transition to/from work.

  4. i’m sold. i’m powering down at 6. i used to power down at 9 and that was even hard! but i like the idea of just going for it šŸ˜‰

  5. I so need to get better at this. I work from home too and have two small kids and sometimes feel like there is no separation between work and family time. When I’m playing with my kids, I feel guilty about not working. When I’m working, I feel guilty that I’m not playing with my kids. I think there’s a lot to be said for boundaries. That might be just what I’m missing. If I’m a little more rigid about scheduling, I might actually make things easier for myself– and I absolutely have to work on getting some me time in there.

  6. Spot on, girl. Spot on. xoxo, MJ

  7. I totally agree with this whole post.. and I do the same thing with lunch!! It’s terrible. I work from home too (not for much longer though!;) and I know I’m having a good day when I get out of the house for an errand and eat a real lunch. Great thoughts, Joy. Thanks for sharing. šŸ™‚ xo

  8. Between having a 3 year old, 1 year old, husband, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a home to take care of, not to mention full time job I actually took an entire day off of work one day this year when I was so over loaded. With the husband out and about that day for work and the girls at daycare I went for a 6 mile run and then crafted the rest of the day that I had before picking up the girls. It was wonderful and I am looking forward to doing it again soon!

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