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Women's Health

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A Woman's Guide to 'Me' Time

How to find the time for yourself and why it matters.

Schedule Your 'Me' Time

Make your free time as important as the pediatrician's visit, the conference call, and your meeting with the contractor. Treat it just like any other appointment.

"You have to build in battery recharge time," says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. "We're very good at project management in our work lives, but not so well in our personal lives. Treat it like any project: I want to recharge my batteries so I don't feel so frazzled and worn out."

Try to find at least half an hour to an hour every day for you. It doesn't have to be all at once. And before you decide what you're going to do with the time you're building into your schedule, promise yourself that you won't waste it.

"We're a multitasking society. If we're having a conversation with a friend, we're thinking about the other things we have to get done," says Allison Cohen, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. "Instead, you need to be present in the moment. Whatever you're doing for you, don't be thinking about your grocery list or the PowerPoint presentation. There's a lot of time in our day that we could be enjoying, but we lose it because we're focused on what we have to do next."

You don’t need a lot of time, either. Here are ideas for making the most of even 5 minutes of "me" time.

If You Have 5-10 Minutes

  • Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Or a cup of coffee and no newspaper. Just watch the clouds go by. No phone or calendar allowed.
  • Call a friend to chat. This doesn't mean planning the bake sale or organizing the neighborhood watch -- just talk, without an agenda.
  • Move. Get up from your desk, stretch, and walk around the block or up and down a flight of stairs.
  • Breathe deeply. While you're sitting in your office, car, or home, focus on breathing slowly and gently for 5 minutes. It's OK if your mind wanders a bit, but don't start planning what you have to do next -- just follow your breath.
  • Pet your pet. Focus for 5 minutes on cuddling with cat or dog. You'll both feel better.
  • Put on your iPod and hit shuffle. Then just sit and listen.
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