Oftentimes, when I’m having conversations with clients and the topic of love languages comes up, something that I typically stress is it’s hard for you to expect your spouse to fluently speak your love language to you when you don’t even do that for yourself. For instance, my top love language is words of affirmation. What do I look like, out here expecting those around me to verbally affirm me, if I’m being self-deprecating in the process? It’s kind of another message for another time but far too many people are expecting their partner to basically break their necks to speak their love language and it’s basically because they want them to overcompensate for where they lack in being loving to themselves. Ouch and amen.
When it comes to quality time, specifically, let’s change that today. Whether your top love language happens to be quality time (giving someone undivided attention for a period of time) or you just know that you don’t prioritize “you time” nearly enough, here are 10 hacks that can help you to love on yourself, in this manner, just a little bit more. Because you absolutely deserve it. Simple as that.
1. Meditate for 15 Minutes Every Morning
Whenever I hear “super churchy” folks refer to meditating as something that is New Age, I’m instantly like, “So, y’all must not read the Bible as much as you profess to.” One reason why I say that is because King David was quite a fan of meditation. For instance, Psalm 4:4(NKJV) says, “Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” I get why too because meditating is good for everything from reducing stress and controlling anxiety to promoting self-awareness and inspiring empathy and kindness to others.
That’s why, no matter how packed your days might be, it’s definitely important to begin your day with at least 15 minutes of meditation. It’s one of the absolute most effective ways to spend some much-needed quality time with yourself. (If you need a little help getting into the swing of things, check out “7 Meditation Hacks (For People Who Can't Seem To Do It)”.)
2. Resist the Urge to “Edit” Your Daily To-Do List
“Overwhelmed” is a word that I hear more and more people use to describe how they feel on a consistent basis. Personally, I think that one of the main things that cause this to happen is the fact that we constantly find ourselves feeling discouraged, due to a lack of feeling as if we’ve accomplished anything, and it’s because we keep adding things to our to-do list if we have a list at all. So, with that being said, if you’re not a big list person, start becoming one and try and put no more than 5-7 things on your list on a daily basis. When those items are checked off, pat yourself on the back and LEAVE THE DAY BE (yes, I am yelling that!), so that you can have a little bit of time for yourself.
Listen, life is a trip and it’s always going to come with more stuff for you to do. A part of what it means to set boundaries is to say “no” — not just to people but oftentimes to plans as well. There are always going to be 24 hours in a day. Refuse to cram so much in that you can’t set aside at least one of those hours for yourself.
3. Take 10-Minute Breaks for Every 50 Minutes of Work
If you actually try it, this is a great work hack that can give you roughly 80 minutes of “you time” every eight-hour workday. Although you may work the kind of gig where you get two 15-minute breaks and an hour lunch break, that doesn’t mean that you can’t fit in some 10-minute breaks every hour too. Taking 10 minutes to listen to a couple of your favorite songs (or some ASMR of ocean waves or rain), journal a few thoughts, or just to inhale and exhale a bit can revive you, much like a cat nap can.
Now, based on the kind of boss that you have, you might need to be super discreet when it comes to this particular point; still, if you are, you definitely should be able to pull it off. Try it and then circle back to let us all know how it went in the comments, OK? I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
4. Actually Take Your Lunch Break
Speaking of lunch breaks, the law requires that your job give you one, so you should require, to yourself, that you take it. I don’t mean eating an energy bar while you’re still sitting at your desk to “finish something up real quick” either. Also, if you work at home, and it’s very easy to go 10-12 hours without stepping away from your computer, you REALLY need to take heed to what I am saying.
Aside from the fact that taking your lunch is yet another way to spend a little bit of quality time with yourself (especially if you go to a location where you can be alone; if you work from home, at least go into your kitchen, bedroom or on your porch for a change of scenery), experts say that eating a full lunch can give your body an energy boost, help your brain to become more productive, reduce irritability, decrease stress levels and help you to get through your day so much easier. A lot of y’all don’t take your lunch and you can feel it. Make doing it super essential and watch how much better your life becomes.
5. Refuse to Take Calls on Your Drive Home (and Go the Long Way Home)
My goddaughter’s mom hosts an Apple radio show. Aside from writing, a lot of you already know that I counsel married couples. Sometimes, we are TALKED OUT, yet we’ll still try to get a convo in while running errands in order to get some “girl time” in. I’m pretty sure that a lot of you also take this approach with some of your own peeps, but if you already know that once you get home, time is not going to be yours again, try and avoid hopping on the phone during your commute home. Use that time instead to listen to a podcast or audiobook or — here’s a novel idea — ride in silence (trust me, silence can be good). Oh, and if you want to get a little more time in, use your GPS system to look at what a longer route home would be. Sometimes, even just 10 more minutes alone in your car can make all the difference in the world, chile.
6. Write Down Five Things You Love About Yourself at the End of Every Week
Here’s a twist on the quality time approach. Unfortunately (and I really do mean that), 8 times out of 10, whenever I ask someone to share five things that they like about themselves and five things that they don’t, they can always rattle the “cons” right off while the “pros” seem to be a struggle. Listen, a part of the benefit of spending some quality time with yourself is so that you can remind yourself of your own value. One way to do that is to not let one single week pass you by without jotting down five things that happened, within that same week, that you are proud of.
It could be getting to work on time every day, not snapping on your co-worker, or saving money on takeout by cooking — whatever. This is a wise quality time practice because the more you get into the habit of clapping for yourself, the easier it will be to cultivate self-confidence and inner stability. Try it this week. See what I mean.
7. Make Bath Time a Total Experience
I don’t expect most of y’all to remember the old-school Calgon commercials. The gist is that, after a long hard day, a woman would “lose herself” in a bubble bath that was filled with Calgon products. You know, something else that I am is a doula and if there’s one thing that many moms tell me that they miss about pre-kids (and shoot, sometimes even pre-marriage) life is being able to use the bathroom in complete and total peace. No matter what your lifestyle may consist of, please don’t get caught into the habit — which is more like a rut — of only seeing showering (check out “How To Turn Your Showers Into A Tranquil DIY Spa”) and bathing (check out “How About You Treat Yourself To A Luxurious Fall-Themed Bath?” and “Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year”) from a purely functional standpoint. Creating an oasis, each and every time you’re in there, can help to relax you, rejuvenate you and center you. It’s not a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity.
8. Go to Bed 30-45 Minutes Earlier
Before you try and give me a million reasons why this sounds close to impossible, hear me out. Some research reveals that most people spend roughly around 145 minutes on some type of social media app a day. So, is it that you can’t get into bed earlier, or is it just that you need to manage your time more wisely? And what should you get into bed earlier for? To decompress. To read a chapter of a book. To rub your feet down with some lavender or CBD oil. To sip on a cup of tea. Shoot — to just CHILL.
When people are in a long-term relationship and share a home together, I recommend doing this, so that they can get some pillow talk (and maybe some sex) in. When you’re single, it’s so you can relax and just be. Listen, if you can figure out how to spend an hour scrolling on Instagram, you can find 30 minutes to start at the ceiling and deep breathe at night. I promise you that.
9. Use Your Personal Days
The reason why I put this down towards the bottom of this article is, I can’t tell you how many times folks have told me that they can’t remember the last time they’ve taken a vacation, let alone had a day off. Yeah, this is what personal days can be used for. Although you might be “programmed” into thinking that they are for doctor’s visits or family emergencies, the keyword to pay attention to is “personal” — meaning, it’s NOBODY’S BUSINESS (yep, I’m yelling that too) what you are using them for.
Waiting until holidays or summertime until you can take some time off is pretty stressful to even think about. So is always using personal days to do business-related stuff. It really is OK to use one of your days to just lie around and do absolutely nothing. You don’t need an excuse to spend time alone with yourself so…don’t make any.
10. Date Yourself
I mean, maybe it’s the ambivert in me but whenever folks look at me crazy when I say that I actually prefer to eat and go to movies alone (most times), I tend to return the same facial expression because — how in the world can you not dig taking yourself out on dates? Like, what in the world? Especially if you are a single person, if there are two things you shouldn’t put off, it’s taking yourself to places you want to go and dating yourself the way you want to be dated. Even though going with a boo can be dope, there is still compromise that is involved. Going out alone means that you can do whatever, whenever, however without anyone’s cosign.
And when you “set the bar” by spending time with yourself in this kind of way, you start to get — and I mean REALLY get — how much of a privilege it is to let others join in with you. It’s the best kind of quality time. Feel me? Go on a couple of dates alone and, in no time, I bet that you will.
Featured image by Getty Images