The concept of finding time for self-care has become so popular that it has a definition in the Oxford Dictionary: “Time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy.” We all know “me” time is important, but it’s often de-prioritized because people feel guilty in the act—downgrading a relaxing mani/pedi or even reading a one-page article in a magazine to Something I Shouldn’t Be Doing Right Now. There’s just so much work to get done and a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Right? Wrong. According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout, “Constantly being ‘on’ doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly,” she says. Carter wrote a Psychology Today article about the many tangible benefits of alone time including: improving creativity, increasing productivity, working through problems effectively, understanding oneself, and enhancing relationships. Sounds pretty good, right?
So, we turned to seven entrepreneurs who’ve learned first-hand how important (and rejuvenating) “me” time really is—and shared how you can fit it into your schedule, too:
Samantha Cooper, Trend Tribe
It used to be that Cooper was so busy building her business, her free time outside of work was dedicated to her seeing her boyfriend or spending time with family—there was no room left for her to be with herself and herself only. “However, I’ve learned that ‘me’ time is a non-negotiable because otherwise, I start to feel rundown and get sick. Now, instead of feeling guilty about spoiling myself with a Real Housewives mini-marathon, I remind myself that ‘me’ time is a necessity for a successful business and loving relationships,” Cooper says. To make it work, Cooper adds “me” time on her calendar—that’s the only way she’ll keep to it. “I’ve literally added ‘mani and pedi’ and scheduled my calls around it. Sometimes a girl needs a mid-day spa break,” she says.
Julie Sygiel, Dear Kate
For the last year, Sygiel has committed to keeping one day of her workweek open, sans any dinner dates or events after work. “Having that type of structure helps me say no to things and plan farther in advance, so I build in enough time to do whatever I feel like doing that evening (which likely is returning emails but occasionally is more exciting!),” Sygiel says.
Meagan Hooper, bSmart Guide
When it comes to being a successful entrepreneur, Hooper always thinks about a line from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “True effectiveness is a function of two things: what’s produced and the producing asset or capacity to produce.” Hooper says, “Every entrepreneur knows it’s hard to schedule ‘me’ time, but by remembering to invest in my production as well as my production capability, it helps me justify and embrace the time off.” Thus, her downtime consists of eating healthy foods, getting some exercise, and spending some time laughing with friends.
Alesya Opelt, Alesya Bags
Opelt has a somewhat surprising take on this issue: “Take your ‘me’ time during traditional business hours. I know it sounds downright counter-productive, but think of it this way—you work all the time during your ‘off’ hours, why wouldn’t you use your flexible schedule for self care too?” she says. Point taken.
Julie Schechter, FitBallet
Since Schecter’s day job is many people’s “me” time mode, she does anything but sweat off-the-clock. “I really focus on doing non-fitness-related things when I’m not working, so that I can completely clear my head. I read fiction, I go out for cocktails with friends; I try to absorb as much of the world that doesn’t relate to my business as possible,” she says.
Courtney Grace Peterson, Logic & Grace
Peterson has a clear list of things that help her clear her head. “I really believe you have to decelerate to accelerate again, so I make it a point to schedule self-care,” she says. Here’s her emergency checklist:
1. Invest in sleep and power naps.
2. Turning your phone to airplane mode for a mini digital detox.
3. Go for long run or walk in the park.
Erin Zakis, Sundara
Last but not least, after feeling and succumbing to serious pressure to launch a successful business, Zakis burned out and decided it was time for a change. “I started making little changes to put ‘me’ time back into my routine. Now I turn my work off by 11 p.m. and I have one day on the weekend where I won’t even check my email. During the week I try to do one thing nice for myself each day—usually a spin or barre class, going grocery shopping and cooking myself dinner or getting a quick massage,” she says. But Zakis’ real trick to having “me” time is asking yourself this question: Where do I do my best thinking? Then go there.