Cleaning the bathroom can be incredibly satisfying for me (I know, I’m working it out in therapy), but it doesn’t feel restorative. Throughout these last few months (and probably long before it), I have found it almost impossible to find any moments to restore or reset myself. I’ve often felt like I was always sitting in the weight of the pandemic, especially when I didn’t have a task to keep myself busy.
I realized that, like many people, I wasn’t socialized to prioritize myself. I wasn’t taught how to stop and say, “What would make me feel better or process this better right now?”
I started chatting with my friends and asking if they had tips to find space for “me time.” Turns out, we all had a common theme: we need to trick ourselves into finding a few moments for ourselves. Here are some tricks I’ve used to reconnect with myself during this time.
1. Use chores as a chance to listen to your favorite (fill-in-the-blank)
I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning. It’s my least favorite chore, yet it makes me so unbelievably happy when it’s done. It’s therapeutic, in that way. If you throw on a podcast you love that makes you laugh or listen to a TV show you’ve watched a million times on your iPad, you can give over to what you are listening to and not have to focus on the task at hand.
The mind is such a powerful tool, why not lean into it?
It almost transports you to a different space. The mind is such a powerful tool, why not lean into it? I found myself listening to Samantha Irby’s hilarious audiobook, We are Never Meeting in Real Life, while weeding in the garden one day, and I almost missed a meeting because I was laughing too hard.
Mealtimes are another time I turn to listening—and singing along—to make a chore into something I enjoy. For me, it doesn’t work if the song is background music. It’s got to be something like Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston, something where you are going to hit some high notes. When I sing at the top of my lungs, endorphins are released, and I feel restored at the end of it. And when it’s all said and done, there’s a delicious meal ready. It’s really a win-win.
2. Add “me-time” to your to-do list
My type-A personality loves to check things off a list. I started using the Notes function on my iPhone for grocery shopping, and they even have a circle you can put a checkmark in when you’re done shopping! Now, when I create my to-do lists for the week, I throw in some me-time stuff so that I can feel accomplished by checking it off my list. Yoga, a run, a relaxing bath—they all go on the list. And when I’m done, that check mark has never felt better.
If you’re more of a Google calendar or planner person, schedule it (and don’t snooze those reminders). Or enlist your family or your partner to keep you accountable for taking some much-deserved alone time.
3. Meditate while you brush your teeth
I was listening to Vivek Murthy talk about his newest book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, when he mentioned a doctor he used to work with. He said the doctor was one of the busiest people he knew, so in order to carve out time for herself, she would spend the time she used to scrub in for surgery as a time to meditate.
That’s two minutes at a time when I could actually clear my mind and focus on my breathing and use it to set intentions for myself.
Most of us do not have any surgeries to scrub in for; however, we all should regularly brush our teeth. I’ve found it helpful to spend those two minutes at a time to actually clear my mind, focus on my breathing, and use it to set intentions for myself. Two minutes may only seem like a little bit of time, but after I’m done, I feel like I took a power nap.
4. Pause for gratitude before you fall asleep
Right before bed is another moment that has become a sanctuary for me. I have a habit of falling asleep on the couch, which makes it impossible to get any kind of nighttime ritual going on. I usually wake up with a start around 1 a.m. and make my way into my bed. In the process, I wake myself up a bit and need to clear my mind again. I’ve started by laying down in bed and starting some deep breaths. Sometimes, I listen to a meditation podcast or do my own meditation.
You’re already in bed, why not let yourself really rest?
In those moments before sleep, you can try and set intentions for the next day, or take it as a moment to assess how the day went, how you’re feeling, and what you’re hoping for tomorrow. Give yourself the two minutes it takes to check in with yourself. You’re already in bed, why not let yourself really rest?