TORONTO, Canada — For young professionals who balance multiple roles, “me-time” can often be a foreign concept. Finding the time to succeed at personal, non-career based goals is hard enough, without adding the extra need for me-time. While the physiological benefits of de-stressing and relaxation are often explored and promoted, how practical is it to actually set aside time for a few moments of downtime?
There-in lies a few questions that I have struggled with as a young professional. What are the best ways to relax and de-stress for a busy professional? What do successful people do and how do they find the time to do it? And what is me-time anyway?
As I struggled with this challenge, I decided to crowd source and pose the following question to a diverse set of professionals:
What does me-time mean to you? How do you relax, de-stress or distract yourself in the midst of your busy life?
The answers are both diverse and insightful.
What Does Me-Time Mean to these Professionals?
Meng Wang, Analyst at TD Securities
“Me-time to me means my runs. I picked up running about a year into my life as an investment banker and it quickly became my favourite way to de-stress and rejuvenate. I took small steps and began with 5km runs at night, but that quickly escalated to training for my first marathon. I am now training for my second marathon this coming October. It may seem counter-intuitive that running 20km on a Sunday afternoon is relaxing. However, I absolutely love that running allows me to spend in the sun, get lost in my music and explore my beautiful city.”
Emily Scarlett, Communications and Press at H&M Canada
“Me-time is something I really value! I work in a fast paced environment, so when I have time to relax, I take the time to enjoy the outdoors with my dog and my husband. I love summer me-time the most as it usually means trips up north in Ontario to my cottage. Basically, any time spent outside enjoying this beautiful country is me-time well spent in my mind.”
Tania DeSa, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Speaker
“Me-time is giving myself permission to do things that light me up. For me, it is dancing, so a zumba class or night of salsa dancing fulfils me and energises me to come back to my work with new momentum. I also believe that having a solid support network is essential. I have got a team of accountability buddies, coaches and friends that I can lean on to help me de-stress (or remind me not to sweat the small stuff).”
Vikram Somasundaram, Co-founder at Edusight
“I find that removing myself from my day-to-day work helps me relax and also gives me good perspective on the challenges I face. A good book, funny TV show, or best of all, quality time with close friends and family are the most relaxing. I come back de-stressed, but also able to take on the same challenges I had before with fresh perspectives and renewed enthusiasm.”
From these interviews, I was able to come up with three distinctive insights:
“Me-time” has no clear meaning
First of all, me-time has no clear meaning. For some it is the ability to relax and gain perspective, while for others it is a way to rejuvenate for another busy day. Its definition is as unique as the needs and interests of people that embrace the concept.
“Me-time” does not have to mean break from the multi-tasking
Second, “me-time” does not have to mean break from the multi-tasking that many of us cherish. Going on runs is a chance to explore the city, being outdoors or taking a class is time to spend with loved-ones and staying home and watching some TV can be a way to stay up-to-date with pop culture.
It is more important than ever that we take the time out to de-stress
Third, considering the amount of stress and pressure active professionals are under, it is more important than ever that we take the time out to de-stress, stay mentally and physically healthy, and stay grounded. If not for the well-known physical and mental benefits of relaxation, it is important to have a fresh perspective to take on our daily challenges and stay motivated at work.
In this way, “me-time” is essential to being an efficient, productive and passionate professional. We need to stop treating it as an add-on to our lives or another to-do list item and start treating it as an important step for us to reach our full potential both personally and professionally.
So unplug, put away your work notes, call up a friend – find your version of “me-time” and embrace the many benefits it has to offer.