How To STOP Feeling Lazy, Guilty & Selfish For Taking Care Of Yourself

Photo: Photo by margot pandone on Unsplash
learn to enjoy solitude stop feeling guilty
Women tell me all the time how they want to slow down and take time out from their busy lives to chill — but they can't.

They tell me there's way too much to do to keep things going in their world, and no one else to do it.

"Besides," they tell me, "taking time for myself is selfish."

They tell me doing stuff for the kids, partner, parents, grandparents, friends, dogs, or cats is more important than me-time.

When they do make time for exercise, yoga, painting or a class, they feel guilty. Isn't cooking and freezing meals for the next decade, helping kids with their homework, and vacuuming dog hair for the umpteenth time this week more important than self-improvement?

When they sit and read, take a walk or meditate for 30 minutes they wonder if they're being lazy. What about the cabinets to be cleaned, the extra work they could be doing for work, or preparing the gourmet meal their partner would be thrilled with?

The oxygen-on-the-plane metaphor is something I often invoke. Everyone understands that if you can't breathe, you can't help your 4-year-old breathe.

Think of taking a little time for solitude as something to help you breathe.

Maybe you've heard about the "she shed" concept. It's a literal place, like a man-cave, but not.

It's a getaway for the busy woman. Leave it to women to figure out that instead of trying to escape to a room in the house, you really need a whole separate building in your backyard, presumably with a huge "DO NOT DISTURB" sign hanging on the door. You can even buy it at your local home improvement store.

I know not everyone has a backyard or can get a shed to hang out in, and just because it's popular doesn't make it the right thing to do. But there is something to be said for the zeitgeist.

What this movement says is: There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to be alone.

When you choose solitude, you're deciding it's not selfish to want some time to "do you," and everyone who depends on you will survive for the hour or two you take for yourself.

"Me time" is an important part of taking care of yourself because it allows you to:

1. Unplug

Need I say that alone-time includes disconnecting from your devices?

Being yolked to our devices keeps us constantly at the beck and call of, forever comparing ourselves to and endlessly liking, re-posting and witnessing the self-aggrandizement of…everyone.

You probably don't need a psychologist to know that unplugging is a good thing. But if you're in doubt, research shows that overuse of electronics can cause eye problems, neck pain, and sleep issues.

2. Decompress

Whether you call it decompression, restoration or relaxation, research has shown that solitude can be deactivating.

It helps you feel less afraid, less angry and less anxious. It deactivates those negative feelings so that you emerge feeling refreshed, renewed, and positive.

If you've ever taken a yoga or exercise class you know what I mean. While not technically alone, you are essentially alone with your thoughts as you focus on the activity. Or you might sit and meditate or walk along a river path. This is not lazy, it's smart.

3. Reboot

We all need time to make a fresh start. Whether it's to bounce back after a difficult day or simply to shift gears from work to home, we benefit from hitting the reset button.

It gives us an opportunity to integrate the good and the bad of the day and to figure out what was important and what was not.

Sleep is one way we reboot, which is why it's important to get enough. But another way to reboot is to be alone with yourself.

4. Reflect

Like "The 5 Hour Rule" governing the behavior of the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah, taking an hour a day to be alone and think without interruption helps us consider where we are and where we're going.

Of course, we don't all have an hour every day, but 15 minutes is better than no minutes. Time creates an opportunity to ponder the universe or whatever comes to mind for you.

Like looking in a mirror, our thoughts come back to us often more clearly, or sometimes slightly altered like a reflection in a pond

5. Create

It's super hard to be creative when there's always someone in your face.

Whether at work or at home, face-time is great but it doesn't allow for the space we need to come up with new ideas, plans or vision. Experimenting, another aspect of  "The 5 Hour Rule," is something we can only do with alone-time.

Trying out new things and allowing imagination to take us to new places are best when practiced solo. It doesn't matter whether you're writing a book or trying out a new recipe, you have to make room to be creative.

So give yourself permission to create space to breathe.

It doesn't have to be a shed outside, but it does have to be alone. You might be surprised by how refreshing, renewing and revitalizing it can be.

It may unleash your inner Oprah or inspire your own version of the next Harry Potter novel hiding inside of you. After you "do you," your significant others might thank you for the NEW you.

Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, power and purpose to your life.