Mental Health Awareness: The importance of making “me” time

This week is Mental Health Awareness week in Aotearoa. It’s so important we make time to reflect on our mental health and wellbeing. This week provides an opportunity to think about what we can do in our daily lives to support positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes. 

At Abley, we recently had a ‘Lunch & Learn’ presentation for employees focused on  work/life balance. One of the things that resonated with me most was about making ‘me’ time and knowing how difficult that can be. 

I (Tracy Fleming) am a mum to two very active boys, age 5 and 8 years. As a working parent, balancing the needs of work and family life can be challenging to say the least. Focusing on children and whānau means that having time to recharge your batteries can require extra effort. Sometimes, it means saying “no” to some activities and, importantly, saying yes to other opportunities!

For me, having ‘me’ time encompasses a wide range of things. My quiet time goes back to the things I have enjoyed BK (before kids). That includes doing my family tree, reading books, going to the movies (on my own), walking in the rain, going to live concerts and, on occasion, singing and dancing around the lounge to loud 80s and 90s music. ‘Me’ time also includes family time – cuddles at bedtime and making memories with my whānau fills my cup! Making memories doesn’t have to cost money – spending quality time together is what counts. My friends and family are across the globe, so keeping in touch using email, social media and phone calls are all essential. And this year, I’m also introducing letter writing. I love reading letters from my Uni years and writing/receiving a letter (not a bill) is fab! 

Tracy MHAW collage

He hauora te taonga – health is wealth! We need to look after both our mental and physical health. For me, that is not the gym – I have tried and failed many times! Biking to school/work, and social activities are part of my daily routine. I also do regular Pilates classes and occasionally online exercise routines at home. Pilates is a great way to focus on my core strength as I head into middle age! I also really enjoy walking, preferably listening to music. And I also make time for a pancake breakfast on Thursdays (officially my “day off”, but doesn’t always turn out that day), such a treat!

I appreciate what works for me, will not work for everyone, ‘Me’ time, by default, is a deeply personal thing and will be unique for each person. Here are some tips to help introduce or make more ‘me’ time in your life.

  • Think about the things that make you happy and how you can build them into your life more often.
  • Don’t set rigid targets for ’me’ time – take small steps and work around your lifestyle.
  • Somethings got to give – you can’t do everything all the time! What you do from week to week may change, but do something for you. 
  • Stay in touch with friends and whānau – it’s a great way to encourage ’me’ time. 
  • Enjoy your ’me’ time!