Need me time

5 Signs My Body and Brain Are Begging for Alone Time

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — By Angie Ebba — Updated on May 9, 2019

These are five signs that I’m in serious need of some alone time.

It could be any typical evening: Dinner is cooking, my partner is doing things in the kitchen, and my child is playing in their room. I could be on the couch reading or folding laundry in the bedroom when my partner comes and asks me something, or my child starts making noises while they play.

Suddenly my internal dialogue is a long series of uuuuggggghhhhh noises while I feel my adrenaline rising.

This is my body screaming that I’m overdue for some “me” time.

As a mom, partner, and woman in this society, it can be easy to get caught up in a cycle of constantly doing things for other people. However, it’s essential to make sure we take care of ourselves, too. Sometimes that means stepping away from it all to spend some time on your own.

By not giving ourselves this time to recharge, we run the risk of burning out, both emotionally and physically.

Luckily, I’ve come to recognize the warning signs that I’m pushing myself too much. Below is a list of five ways my mind and body signal that I’m overdue for some time on my own and what changes I make to ensure I’m properly looking after myself.

One of the earliest indicators that I’m in need of some time to myself is when things just don’t sound enjoyable. I may find myself complaining internally about being bored or procrastinating on creative projects I normally would have looked forward to doing.

It’s as if my spirit needs to recharge before it can take on anything that involves expending creative energy.

When I notice this happening, I realize it’s time for a “me date.” This may be as simple as going to the library and browsing for an hour or getting myself a tea and looking at Pinterest for new art project ideas.

Inevitably, the combination of a bit of alone time along with some new
inspiration will get my creative juices flowing again.

I’ve learned over the years that I’m an emotional eater. So, when I find myself suddenly craving all the snacks in the house, it’s a good reminder to check in with myself and see what’s going on internally.

Generally, if I find myself reaching for the chips or chocolate, it’s because I’m seeking an escape through my taste buds.

Sometimes I’ll acknowledge that I’m stressed and run myself a hot bath, taking a book and my snacks with me. Other times I’ll ask myself what I actually need; it’s not the snacks but rather a huge glass of water and lemon along with some quiet time sitting on the back porch.

noticing my desire to emotionally eat and checking in with myself, I can
determine whether it’s really the food I want (sometimes it is!) or what I’m
actually craving is a break.

Usually I’m very adept at juggling multiple responsibilities while keeping calm. However, sometimes I find myself getting overwhelmed by the smallest things.

Maybe I notice partway through making dinner that I’m missing an ingredient and become emotionally paralyzed trying to figure out a substitution. Or I realize after leaving the store that I forgot to buy shampoo and burst into tears.

Anytime I notice that I’m no longer able to roll with these things and am instead stopped by them, it’s a good indicator to myself that I’ve got too much on my plate and need to take a break. Usually this is a good time for me to practice self-care. This includes:

  • Giving
    myself a firm reality check.
    Is this situation really the end of the world?
  • Finding
    out if my basic needs are met.
    Am I hungry? Do I need to drink some water?
    Would I feel better if I lie down for a few minutes?
  • Reaching out
    for help.
    For example, I may ask my partner to pick up shampoo while they’re

By taking some of those little things off my plate, I’m able to regain some time to myself to properly relax and recharge.

I pride myself on generally being pretty even-tempered. So when little noises my child makes get under my skin, or when I get frustrated by my partner asking me a question, I know something is up.

When I find myself getting grumpy and snappy with my loved ones, I’ll put myself in what my family and I call a “self-imposed timeout.” This is reserved for when one of us realizes they’ve reached their limit and really need to take a few minutes away.

For me, I’ll often go into the bedroom and take some deep breaths and practice grounding techniques, such as rubbing a smooth stone or smelling some essential oils. I may play a game on my phone for a few minutes or just pet the cat.

During this time I’ll also reflect on what I’m actually needing in that moment.

When I’m eventually ready to interact with people again, I’ll go back and apologize for snapping. I’ll let my child or partner know what was going on, and, if necessary, let them know that there’s something I need.

On more than one occasion I’ve snuck into the bathroom with my phone, not because I needed to go, but because I just wanted to get a few moments of quiet. This act of actually removing myself from my family is my body telling me that I really need more alone time — and not just in my bathroom for five minutes!
When I find myself doing this or having the urge to lock myself in the bedroom (for more than just the aforementioned self-imposed timeout), then I know its really time to get away. I’ll pull out my planner and look for some time to schedule lunch with just myself. Or I’ll ask my partner if we can talk about a good time for me to get away for a few days and schedule an overnight getaway.

I almost always come back from these times refreshed and a more loving mother, a more present partner, and generally more myself.

All of these signs are good indicators for me that I’m not taking care of myself the way I need to. When I do begin to feel these things, I can check in with myself and implement my various self-care practices.

From a hot bath and a book or a walk with a friend to a few days away from my family, these can help revive and rejuvenate both my body and mind.

And while your indicators may vary from mine, knowing what they are — and what works best to alleviate them — will help you take care of yourself.

Share on Pinterest

Angie Ebba is a queer disabled artist who teaches writing workshops and performs nationwide. Angie believes in the power of art, writing, and performance to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, build community, and make change. You can find Angie on her website, her blog, or Facebook.

Benefits of Alone Time and Signs You Need It

Agitation, chronic stress, and fatigue could be signs that you need to schedule some time for yourself.

“Me time,” “self-care,” and “solitude” are all terms that could potentially describe the act of spending time with no one but yourself. Solitude, whether you’re physically alone or mentally separate from those around you, can have a restorative effect on mental health. You could be showing signs you need alone time without even knowing it.

There’s a difference between time alone and loneliness. Alone time is a healthy way to recharge, destress, and recenter yourself. Loneliness is unwanted mental or physical isolation that can negatively impact mental and physical health, sleep, and cognitive abilities. However, lack of alone time can affect your mental health, too.

Life is a balancing act where the scales can easily get tipped off center. Once you recognize the signs of overwhelm and stress that accompany a lack of alone time, you can regularly schedule some solitude to recenter and bring balance back into your life.

Signs and symptoms of psychological stress may indicate that you could use time to yourself. These signs include:

  1. Getting easily irritated, agitated, and angry at usually insignificant things. If you’re losing your temper over most things or find yourself irritated at everything your boss, partner, bartender, or anyone else says, you could use time to yourself.
  2. You’re tired or fatigued. Even if you’re getting a full night of sleep, you might not be mentally or physically resting as much as you need. Alone time can quiet your mind, give you time for introspection, and separate you from things that are zapping your energy.
  3. Things don’t seem as fun to you anymore. Is everything feeling boring or too much to handle? You could be giving too much of yourself to others, leaving you no room to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
  4. You’re in a hurry all the time. If you’re rushing from one place or project to the next, your brain isn’t getting enough downtime. Whether you’re trying to meet someone else’s expectations or unrealistic ones of your own, your brain and body need time to slow down.
  5. Your stress levels never seem to go down. The demands on your time and attention may not give your adrenaline a chance to simmer to a slow boil. Chronic stress contributes to premature aging, insulin resistance, poor mental health, and many other conditions.

What happens when you don’t get enough alone time?

Lack of alone time opens the door for the effects of long-term stress to chip away at your health. Anxiety and depression can take hold. As your mental health declines, your physical health can follow, with stress linked to everything from heart disease to skin disorders.

Lack of alone time can also affect your performance, particularly if you rely on creativity. Like many aspects of life, creativity relies on a balance of social interaction, where you’re inspired by others, and time alone to reflect and develop your sense of artistic identity.

You, no matter your occupation, gender, or social status, need time to do the things that are important to you.

When you’re alone, there’s no social pressure to conform or expectations of others to fulfill. It’s a time to let down your guard and be less self-conscious. Alone time encourages independence and helps build confidence in your ability to be alone, act alone, and find enjoyment alone.

The solitude you find, whether it’s physical or mental distance, lets you relax and relieve tension. In a 2019 literature review, it was found that when people are alone without a specific task or choose a sedentary task like reading, they tend to self-reflect.

Self-reflection gives you a chance to listen to your thoughts and feelings without distraction.

Additionally, the review found that time spent alone reduces high emotional states, both positive and negative. It creates a centering and regulating of emotions, fostering a sense of peace.

Alone time also gives you a chance to problem solve without interruption. Sometimes when we have a problem, we kick it down the road because we don’t believe we have the time or mental energy to address the issue. Solitude lets you prioritize and think creatively about possible solutions.

Do you need alone time in a relationship?

A 2022 study found that “aloneliness,” a term that describes dissatisfaction with lack of alone time can lead to more angry or aggressive behavior toward your partner. So yes, everyone needs alone time.

However, some people need more time alone than others. Conflict in relationships can occur because one partner desires more or less time together than the other.

Partners may need to compromise on the amount of time they spend together to ensure they find a balance of intimacy and independence that works for both of them.

There’s nothing wrong with spending your alone doing nothing. No TV. No social media. No reading. In fact, people who spend 15 minutes a day with no specific task may experience less emotional fluctuation.

There’s also evidence that people benefit from staying off of social media from time to time. Social media keeps you connected and keeps the social pressure on, which is one of the things you’re trying to relieve during alone time. Try giving yourself a break from scrolling through social media for a few hours.

Choose activities that you find relaxing. You could:

  • read a book
  • meditate
  • spend time doing a hobby
  • take a walk
  • go for a hike
  • sit quietly and listen to music
  • accomplish a long-desired task like cleaning a drawer or closet
  • journal
  • float in a pool
  • lay in a hammock

The goal of your alone time is to calm your mind and body. If the activity does that, it’s a great option for you.

Lack of time alone can leave some feeling irritable, stressed, or angry. When you begin to feel this way, consider taking a pause on your regular routine and take a moment to breathe and recharge.

For many, alone time is a great opportunity for self-reflection and self-discovery. It can also rejuvenate you by balancing your emotions and letting your body physically relax. Not only does this practice help improve your well-being, but it can also improve your relationships with others.

You can spend alone time doing anything that relaxes and recenters you. For some, that’s hiking a new trail or sitting in the park. For others, it’s drinking iced tea and reading a book. And then, when you come back from your time alone, you can face daily challenges and stress as your best self.

Lyrics of the song Time and Glass

Forgive me, I need time
The soul is not indifferent to you
And what is inexplicable in me
After all, you need me

Understand me, it's so hard for me to wait
I want early summer morning
Merge with you
I just need you

I'm tired of waiting, hoping, believing in something
I need only one, to whom I could entrust everything
Open her soul and tell her everything that worries me
Tell her dear, we are so similar to you
I want to know you closer, dear, tender
And only you are my hopes
I won't be happy without you, how can you not understand
You don't understand games, but you play with my heart

You ask me to wait
And for me it's so difficult
And it's hard to be calm
When all day you are with someone somewhere
And hope at night,
What are you sleeping at home today
And not under the windows in the car with your friend

Forgive me, I need time
The soul is not indifferent to you
And what is inexplicable in me
After all, you need me

Understand me, it's so hard for me to wait
I want early summer morning
Merge with you
I just need you

Believe me, dear, only happiness, I wish you
What is happening between us still do not understand
I really want to be next to you
But there's just no time to fall in love
Airs, studios, performances
Forgive me not to love, I know this crime
Believe in one thing, you don't want to hurt me
But I'm sorry for now, I'll probably live solo

Understand me, it's so hard for me to wait
I want early summer morning
Merge with you
I just need you

Forgive me, I need time
The soul is not indifferent to you
And what is inexplicable in me
Cause you need me

Do not be offended, I ask you
I know you will meet your fate
And you will write to her all these lines
And it's time for you and me to dot

Forgive me, I need time
The soul is not indifferent to you
And what is inexplicable in me
After all, you need me

Understand me, it's so hard for me to wait
I want early summer morning
Merge with you
I just need you Forgive me, I need time
For your soul is not different
And that in me is inexplicable
After all, I need you

Do not misunderstand me I have to wait so difficult
I want an early summer morning
With you merge
You just need me

I'm tired of waiting, hoping, something to believe in
I need only one who could all trust
Open her heart and tell me everything that disturbs
Tell her sweet, so we look to you
Know you want to close my dear, sweet
And only the one you linked my hopes
I will not be happy without you, can not you see
Do not you understand in the games, but my heart you're playing

And for me it is so difficult
And it's hard to be calm
When the whole day you're with someone, somewhere,
And at night, hope
What do you sleep at home today
Instead of the windows in the car with a friend

Forgive me, I need time
For your soul is not different
And that in me is inexplicable
After all, I need you

Do not misunderstand me I have to wait so difficult
I want an early summer morning
With you merge
You just need me

Believe me dear only happiness I wish you
What's going on between us still do not understand
I want next to you is
But simply do not have time to fall in love
Esters studio performances
I'm sorry not to love me, I know it is a crime
Believe in one, I don't want you to hurt me
But excuse me while I will probably live solo

Do not misunderstand me I have to wait so difficult
I want an early summer morning
With you merge
You just need me

Forgive me, I need time
For your soul is not different
And that in me is inexplicable
After all, I need you

No offense, I beg you
I know you will meet your destiny
And she'll be writing all these lines
And we are with you it's time to set the record straight

Forgive me, I need time
For your soul is not different
And that in me is inexplicable
After all, I need you

Do not misunderstand me I have to wait so difficult
I want an early summer morning
With you merge
You just need me

See also:

  • Time and Glass - or maybe we will forget everything and run away
  • Time and Glass - I know where love lives
  • Time and Glass - always about you. .. this song is in my head
  • Time and Glass - Let's forget everything and run away...
  • Time and Glass - Name 505

“I need time for myself”: how to stop saying “yes” to the detriment of your interests

According to the female gender role, we must first care for and look after others. But in fulfilling this role, we run the risk of completely dissolving in it if we do not respond equally actively to our own needs. So says Christine Neff, author of The Strength Within. With the permission of Mann, Ivanov, and Ferber, we publish an excerpt on how to stop acting to your detriment. Drawing on extensive research, cognitive psychology, evidence-based practice, and her own experience, she shares how self-compassion helps women achieve personal and professional success, take care of themselves and avoid burnout, be authentic in relationships, stand up for their rights, and stand up to any form of violence and abuse. coercion. This passage is about how to choose the latter between the expectations of others and your own needs.

One-sided care

One of the most problematic consequences of society's attitude towards women, according to which they should first of all be gentle, not strong, is an over-emphasis on helping others and insufficient attention to taking care of themselves. Submitting our needs to the needs of others is seen as symbolic of the admirable selflessness that makes women the “noble sex.” This characteristic fuels benevolent sexism, which explains the unequal distribution of resources in favor of men by the fact that women are generous and kind.

And we often fall for this hook. Like everyone, we want to be loved and approved. When we discover that by sacrificing ourselves, others like us, we find ourselves in a strange position: we give up our own needs in order to maintain a positive sense of self, even if this means that we have less value left in us.

Vicki Helgeson and Heidi Fritz of Carnegie Mellon University have called the focus on the needs of others at the expense of their own needs "total caring" - a state in which caring for others is not restrained by caring for yourself. I call it one-sided concern. For example, you constantly agree to do what your partner wants (vacate where he decides, go to a restaurant that he likes, live in a city that he has chosen), and do not talk about what you want. You can spend so much time helping family, friends, or your favorite charity that you don't have time for your own interests, and you feel exhausted. Not surprisingly, women are much more likely to show such one-sided concern than men. Although caring for others is generally associated with well-being, caring for oneself leads to a breakdown and partly explains why women are more likely to suffer from depression.

Sometimes women cannot meet their needs simply because everyday life does not allow them. A single mother with two jobs simply doesn't have time for herself. But one-sided concern can also be due to personality type or self-identification. Some women focus on the needs of others to the detriment of their own because they feel they have to do it—they feel they deserve nothing else. Studies show that women who are prone to one-sided caring tend to keep quiet and stifle themselves in the presence of others because they doubt that what they say can be interesting to anyone. They find it difficult to express their true self, be assertive and stand up for their rights when others do not pay attention to them. This inability to express oneself causes problems in romantic relationships. It is difficult to share your thoughts with your partner if you think they are unworthy of interest. It also makes it difficult to talk about your desires or demand proper attention to your needs.

Related material

Women who show one-sided care do not always do it with joy, they are often dissatisfied with the situation. They are afraid to ask for what they need, and at the same time resent others for not giving them what they want. Good luck to them! If we don't ask, it probably won't happen.

Such loss of self can be deadly. Studies show that people who tend to be one-sided caregivers often neglect their physical health: those with diabetes or breast cancer are less likely to see a doctor, exercise, eat right, take medication, or take rest. One study looked at people who were admitted to the hospital with a heart attack. The researchers found that patients prone to one-sided caring were more likely to experience prolonged cardiac symptoms (chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and heart palpitations) because they did not take enough care of themselves. By ignoring our own needs, we literally break our own hearts. <...>

Related material

How to say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself

For healthy care, it is important to find the right balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. While the supply of love we can give to others is truly limitless, there are limits to time and effort. If we give ourselves to such an extent that we harm ourselves, this activity is in no way consistent with compassion. Compassion is aimed at relieving suffering, and when we hurt ourselves to relieve the suffering of others, compassion does not work - not only in principle, but also in practice. If we do not make efforts to meet our own needs in order to replenish our supplies, we will "go broke" and will not be able to take care of others. If we exhaust ourselves to such an extent that we have nothing to give, we will be of no use.

Veronica learned about the importance of self-care after one of my week-long self-compassion workshops. Over lunch, the group and I discussed the cultural expectations placed on women in terms of caring for others. I talked about my research comparing the rates of self-sacrifice among Mexican American and European women. It turned out that Mexican-American women experience much more pressure in relationships, forcing them to sacrifice their own needs for the benefit of others. Veronica, a Mexican-American in her early 40s, agreed with me, which is, in fact, why she was drawn to the topic of self-compassion. We continued our acquaintance, and I learned her story.

Veronica grew up in a large, friendly, loving family in central California. She was the eldest of six children, and at the age of ten she was assigned to look after her younger brothers and sisters. The basis of her sense of self was the idea of ​​what good care is, her caring and responsibility were appreciated and rewarded. This continued when she became an adult. She got married, had two boys who were now teenagers, and worked as a manager at an accounting firm. In the family, she was the main breadwinner: her husband, Juan, fell ill with multiple sclerosis and could not work. Coming home from work, she cooked dinner, helped Juan, and also did everything to make the family feel like a single whole. She was religious and helped out at church on weekends, preparing food for charity events and organizing fundraisers. If someone needed help, they turned to Veronica.

But Veronica felt like she was literally choking. She worked to the point of exhaustion and became increasingly resentful of everyone who depended on her. Her life seemed to consist of nothing but responsibilities. She rarely managed to find time for what she liked, such as painting with watercolors. She studied drawing in college and would have loved to become a professional artist, but took the safe route and became an accountant.

Juan and her sons had to go to relatives for the weekend, and she finally had time to rest. She was going to lock herself at home and paint, paint, paint. But at the last minute, the priest called and asked if she could fill in for a sick volunteer at the annual summer camp this weekend. "It's so important for kids," he said. Veronica almost agreed on the machine, but stopped herself and said that she needed to think. She realized that she needed to turn to yang energy. Which she did.

When Veronica hung up, the first thing she thought about was what might happen if she said no. She realized that she was scared. Can she refuse? What will the church think of her? Think she's cold, selfish, heartless, not a true Christian? She later shared how she used the exercises from the workshop to deal with her fears. At first, she allowed herself to fully feel the unease in his physical manifestation - her throat constricted. It felt like she was suffocating and unable to speak. Veronica realized that she was afraid: if she defends herself, they will stop loving her. Then she tried another technique she learned in the seminar, even though she felt uncomfortable. She said to herself out loud: “I love and appreciate you, Veronica. I'm taking care of you. I want you to be happy". She repeated and repeated these words. At first all this seemed strange and absurd to her, but she persevered. Finally, she began to let these words into herself and began to cry.

Related material

Veronica then decided to take a "Meeting Self-Compassion Break" to call on the power of a full, balanced authenticity. She first resorted to mindfulness to validate the fact that what she really wanted to do was paint and not volunteer at the camp. She moved on to the next step, finding balance, repeating to herself, “My needs are important too.” She loved her church and wanted to help, but she knew she had to start caring not only for others, but for herself as well. Then she took the last step - devoted herself to her own well-being. She put her hands on her face and spoke to herself in the way she could speak to her son, so that he would listen to her, while feeling her love: “I don’t want you to feel exhausted and empty, dear, I want you to feel yourself satisfied and whole. You deserve to take some time for yourself."

After this exercise, Veronica felt stronger and called the priest: “I would love to help you, but I have plans for the weekend.

Learn more