How to Start Taking Time for Yourself

Think for a moment about the last time that you rested or took a second to check in with yourself. Resting or practicing self-care may be a message that is encouraged frequently, and we may nod our heads in agreement, but do we really practice this? There is something significant in coming back to this message as rest serves as a base for how we then move through life.

Our society is run by and capitalizes on promoting the message that we have to be fast-paced. We must do or experience the next thing. We must constantly be consuming information or responding instantly.

Often we do not allow ourselves to take time. To have the space to process or be still. We constantly are taking in so much information – our brains are on information overload. How are we then expected to make decisions from a wise mind? Or interact fruitfully with our co-workers, partners, and family if we never allow ourselves to slow down.

A lesson to learn over and over again is that it is OKAY to slow down. It is OKAY to ask for and take time/space to process. It is OKAY to say “I don’t have an answer for you right now, can I respond at a later time?” or “Let me think about that.” We are doing ourselves a disservice if we quickly rush and make decisions without checking in with ourselves. There are benefits to slowing down, observing, and sitting with an experience, event, or moment before responding. Slowing down allows us to respond rather than react to situations. 

What would/could it look like to check in with yourself. Whether in a stressful moment or just as you move throughout the day. Tara Brach is a psychologist and meditation teacher who revised a meditation practice that promotes slowing down. The acronym RAIN serves as guidance to cultivate healing attention through understanding and love.

R – Recognize (what is happening)

A – Allow (the experience to be there, just as it is)

I – Investigate (with kindness & curious attention)

N – Nurture (with loving presence)

Another helpful acronym called STOP prompts checking in with yourself and has its roots in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT teaches skills on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness.

S – Stop

T – Take a Step Back

O – Observe 

P – Proceed Mindfully

The intentional act of taking time, even for just a few seconds, gives our brain and body a moment to rest, reset and regulate. This time can look different for each of us, as it can be for a few minutes or something that you choose to invest more time too. The important thing is that you find what works best for you as you notice and cultivate taking time for yourself. To honor yourself, your decisions and take in what life has to offer. Before we fill other people’s cups, we need to first fill up our own.

Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW