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When was the last time you had gazed at the twinkling stars in the dead of the night and felt amazed by the dance of sparkle in the sky? When did you sit near a tiny brook in a silent forest and let it fill your whole being gently?

What was the last experience that can rightly deserve the tag of truly life-changing, like the Archimedes’ Eureka one? If you need even more than a moment to answer these questions, the farthest thing from you is yourself.

A study has shown that a poor work-life balance has caused 37.8% of the respondents to feel burnt out and disconnected from their daily lives, leading to psychological and physical distress.

It doesn’t even throw a punch of surprise, as in the regular humdrum, materialistic pursuits, and artless hurriedness of life, modern man, and it includes your employees, has forgotten that life generally comes to those who have time for life. And a prerequisite to it is to hit the pause button, the button that brings you closer to yourself.

And psychologists, en masse, are unambiguous in highlighting the detrimental effect of this long and consistent ignoring of the link between pause button and self.

Not reserving time to do what makes you happy, not listening to and following the inner voice further strengthens the duality between mind and body, setting in motion negative emotions. They are more than potent enough to take a toll on your mental and physical health, making you feel more disoriented and alienated.

The only way out of this self-destructive quagmire is to shut off the noise around you and be in the present moment.

To paraphrase Walter Benjamin, a well-known philosopher, it’s a process of surrendering to being lost. He asserts that one appreciates everything within a given moment when one notices everything through innate senses instead of what one knows. This spiritual wellness is possible only when one is enshrined in a positive solitude, and this, in essence, is the crux of Me Time.

What is Me-time?

It is the time you set aside to be present with yourself, mind, body, and spirit. It’s this magical hour where you break the monotonality of your routine schedule and indulge in acts that make you happy, relaxed, rejuvenated, and insightfully thoughtful.

Consequently, it brings the mind and body back into sync with one another to ensure optimal function, which Thich Nhat Hanh calls mindfulness. In short, it’s the spiritual and joyous way of becoming the best version of yourself by weeding out the ailments in body and soul.

The Neurological Importance of Me-time

When you feel burnout or have exhausted your stamina, your brain starts to use the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain. It exists to initiate your fight-or-flight reaction when you see the danger.

For a fine-tuned mind, this fight-or-flight type of response is not needed. But it does get activated when your brain strain is over-extended due to consistent occupation with tasks and stress—resulting in anxiety, panic, and restlessness.

Me time is the exact panacea to this disastrous scenario, as fine-tuning the brain with body and spirit is its very breath.

It’s not selfish to take ‘me time’

Though we are taught that to live for others is a virtue and caring for others before you is a way to salvation, me-time is not a selfish activity. It’s actually the opposite, as it prepares us for better social interaction. The truth is, if we don’t look after ourselves first, then we are not fit to help others - certainly not to our employers.

Psychologists Christopher R. Long and James R Averill support this idea: “Solitude is inherently social (in) that it relies upon the human capacity to reflect upon and interpret one’s own experiences.”

A 2012 survey is a testimony to the fact that me-time is getting de-tabooed quite quickly. More than 18,000 people from 134 countries sought to learn what “taking time to rest” meant to the respondent. Survey results demonstrated that “spending time on my own” was the fourth most popular answer.

How Me-time Helps Employees

1. Fuels up the creativity

Note that the life of an employee in the office is very regularized and repetitive. Their mind is attuned to follow the patterns set up by an organization. Add to it the constraint of deadlines, chances are very little that they will think out-of-the-box and bring in slews of innovative solutions that will put the world in splits.

The truth is, you cannot pour through an empty cup, and your employees in the mundane regularities become just that- empty cups. Me-time gives them that pit spot, where they fill themselves with the contemplation-generated, newly gained insights about their creative ideas.

As man’s outer work is an extension of his inner being, this creative simmering sneaks into his workplace as well. There are enough credible studies that link active solitude with increased creativity – an idea espoused by the likes of Albert Einstein and Henry David Thoreau.

2. Assists in problem solving

The longest distance is not between the two countries located on different continents. It’s between what you are and what you could be. Me-time can bridge that distance.

Note that it can plunge you into a deeper self-discovery where you don’t just carefully evaluate your strengths and weaknesses but fathom out remedies for the latter as well.

You give a hard look at the past mistakes and zero in on what actually triggered them. This lessened-down stress plus self-introspection equip your employees with better skills and thereby helps in solving chronic business problems.

3. Strengthens relationships

With all the external stimulus cut off, and no intervening distractions to disturb your steady stream of consciousness, me-time lets your employees have a clear view of their personal and professional relationships.

They can figure out non-erroneously how they feel about all the relationships and whether they need to augment certain aspects to make them work.

It secures their emotional well-being, as relationships are the mainstay of personal happiness. Consequently, they can be in their best spirits when they are at the workplace.

The same echoed in Dr. Almuth McDowell's study, which found that people who experienced high-quality me-time enjoyed better work-life balance, well-being and were more engaged at work.

Gifting Me-time to Your Employees

As the alchemical power of me-time in revolutionizing productivity at the workplace is as clear as the white dot on the blackboard, companies should find joyous yet powerful ways of gifting me-time to their employees. Gift vouchers come off with flying colors to assist employers, as they give freedom to choose when and where of a gift. After vetting all the possible avenues of me-time that can be giftified through vouchers, we have conjured up the following listings.

1. Bookshops

Bookshops are the last relics of sanity of our time. With countless wisdom and life-altering insights, there is a reason why books are called the most valuable friends of man.

The paucity of time, the environment that is not conducive to getting lost in the sea of words might have put dust on the reading habit of your employees - the act where once they find solace and relaxation.

It’s not a coincidence that for many employees taking healthy rest meant reading in a quiet corner where warm fluorescent light falls on their favorite books.

2. Cafe

The exotic, finely brewed coffees and niche decor aren’t the only reason why cafes have become nerve centers of each and every flourishing city.

They offer an uninterrupted and long solitude, where people can withdraw from the madding crowd and indulge in what satiates them most - reading, drawing, writing, observing, listening to music, or simply thinking about life.

The power of cafes in bequeathing me-time was voiced by J.K.Rowling when she said: “And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for a while is just bliss.”

3. Adventure

Just like me-time can be used to gather things and own self, it can be used to gather experiences too - and adventure mounts high in the upper echelons of experiences.

The yet-unfelt feeling of bungee jumping, flying fox, zorbing, kayaking, and flying like a bird in paragliding doesn’t just etch memorability on the psyche of your employees.

By making them face the unpredictable danger, this me-time toughens them up - preparing them for volatile business challenges.

4. Wellness centers

As modern life is nothing but navigating through the serpentine-like long queue of gadgets, me-time must involve digital detoxification.

Log out from virtual life and get into real life. And the best way for it is losing the sense of time in deep meditating, yoga, or getting your body cleaned with aromatic, medicinal oils and ancient massages.

Note that oriental tradition considers mediation as one of the most preferred methods to solicit oneness with oneself, and your employees shouldn’t be deprived of it.

5. Travel

They say that to know someone better, travel the world with him. The same is mirror-reflectively true for your employees as well. When they break out of their known comfort zones and escape into unknown territories, they come face to face with themselves.

It is their first realization of how adaptable they are to new habitats, how well they can manage the unforeseen chaos, the uncertainties of canceled flights and climate conditions, and how well they can maintain the poise when the wind is not flowing in their direction.

Naturally, it makes them more resilient, something they might not have known that they have in them. This incredible capacity of solo travel in revealing yourself to you has catapulted it into the category of me-time.

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Prasad Dhamdhere

Prasad Dhamdhere LinkedIn

A strong believer of Nietzsche's saying: "All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down," I help organizations reach more people through words.