I used to know exactly what my "me time" was. I never called it "me time,” though. I called it “Princess Chicken time” because somehow “Princess Chicken” is my husband’s nickname for me. No one knows why, not even him.
Anyway, Princess Chicken Time was reserved for doing those things I love best: writing, cooking, and drinking in the tub. I would get home from work and would unwind by baking peanut butter brownies, eating peanut butter brownies, or writing about baking and eating peanut butter brownies. On nights that I didn’t write or bake, I would relax with a drink in the tub. Sometimes I would paint my nails. I had it all figured out.
One of the benefits of having a 9-5 job is that when you leave work, you quit working. When I worked as a lab rat all of my work had to be done in my cage/lab; I didn’t have Bunsen burners and acid baths in my kitchen (though I’m looking into a centrifuge). This helped to create a definite divide between work and play, something that I took for granted before I began freelancing full-time.
Once I started working from home, the lines between "work" and "me time" began to blur, and true R&R dwindled down to almost nothing. I didn't recognize this at first. When I made my hobby my job and became a freelance writer with a seemingly extraneous chemistry degree, I thought nothing would ever feel like work again. It felt like my entire existence had morphed into perpetual Princess Chicken Time; all I had to do was cook, write, taste test new types of candy (like the delicious Snickers Peanut Butter Squared), and continuously find new things to cook, test, and write about.
But once eating Snickers and the like becomes your job, does it still qualify as "me time"?
Of course it does (indulging in the delicious always counts), but I quickly discovered that once you start depending on something for income, it becomes a little less fun and a little more stressful; no matter how fun your job is (and mine is very fun), you always need “me time" to relax, recharge, and reset.
Basically, I am in dire need of 25% more "me time."
Because I have no set hours I can always be working on something and I usually am. It doesn't help that my husband also works from home; if we’re not careful, we’ll spend days in front of our computers, interacting only with each other and maybe the cashier who rings up our coffee and juice. Even lunch presents an opportunity for productivity; each meal has the opportunity to become a blog post. The only part of my previous relaxation routine that remains outside the realm of “job” is drinking in the bathtub, but doing that every night is expensive and (if I'm being completely honest) makes the following mornings a bit less productive.
A major challenge I face is my brain. As a reformed Type-A personality, I tend to view relaxing, "me time" activities and self-care as “frivolous” or something that I have to earn, rather than the necessity that it is. This doesn't prevent me from binge-watching TV or indulging in an entire night of drinking whiskey while listening to Hank Williams, but it does make me feel disproportionately guilty about it.
Knowing these things about myself, I think the solution to my "me time" issues is to get a hobby. I’ve started running, but that is not doesn't count, as I actively dislike every moment of it.
I've narrowed down a list of potential hobbies to treat myself and increase my "me time" by at least 25%. Hopefully one of these three options will help me disengage from my workday and chill out.
1. 25% More Banjo Playing
I have been talking about taking up the banjo for at least half a decade now. I have owned a banjo for almost three years (it was my wedding present). Maybe I'll finally look into classes and learn to make sweet bluegrass music.
2. Become 25% More Proficient at Using My Camera
I have a pretty sweet DSLR that I have no idea how to use. I’m sure there are a bunch of great online resources, but I learn best in structured classes, so I’m going to check out the local community colleges and see what they have to offer.
Or maybe I'll just read the manual.
3. 25% More Baked Goods, But ONLY FOR ME
When I first started baking in college, it was a way for me to relieve stress. I would make peanut butter squares from scratch, whip up my favorite Snickers cream pie, or make a batch of peanut butter cookies to take into work. It wasn't necessarily about eating the baked goods, it was the process that I found soothing. These days, baking is more about getting that blog-worthy photo or result, and the relaxing aspect of it gets completely lost. I'm going to make an effort to bake for me only at least once a month; I won't even Instagram it.
Hopefully, one of those three routes will allow me to increase my me-time by 25%, chill me out a bit and teach me that I am WORTH IT, DAMN IT.
If none of that works, maybe I'll keep it simple and treat myself to a delicious Snickers in the bubble bath. Though they can't completely replace the occasional tub whiskey, a Snickers Peanut Butter Squared might be a better weeknight option; Snickers have never given me a hangover.