“My Dad told me ‘invest in yourself.’ Whatever that means to you, invest in yourself… -Jeff Daniels
What does it mean to invest in yourself? I think when most of us think of investments we think of finances. Honestly it often seems like there’s a million problems that would be solved if we only had more money to invest. When we think of investing in ourselves creatively that typically involves training which also costs money. Sometimes investing in ourselves means treating ourselves to a vacation-something that also costs money.
I don’t know about you but money isn’t something I have a whole lot of. However, I am a firm believer in investing in yourself and let me tell you it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The best way to invest in yourself is with personal time-time to pause, breathe, rest, and dream.
Why the Need to Invest in Personal Time
I think we have this misconception that investing time in ourselves is selfish. However, the reality is it’s selfish not to invest time in ourselves. As artists we want to give. We want to give our time to our art, we want to give our time to others, we want to make a difference. However, creativity takes time and energy and when we don’t invest time in ourselves, we run low on both of those.
Most of us feel like we don’t have enough time and so the thought of unplanned time seems ridiculous. Pausing to take time for ourselves seems like a waste or poor use of time when there is so much to do. The reality is the opposite is true. You are more likely to be productive and get what you need to get done accomplished if you take some personal time to invest in yourself and rest.
How to Know You Need Some Personal Time
Even if you agree with everything I’ve said thus far, chances are you feel like personal time is something that other people need because they can’t keep up with your pace or you think it’s a nice idea that you just don’t have time for. Let me ask you this: do any of the following statements describe you?
- you work multiple jobs
- you eat on the go or skip meals
- you get less than 6 hours of sleep a night
- your breaks at work are “working breaks”
- your down time at home is devoted to prep work for tomorrow’s jobs
- you get sick easily or have a chronic run down feeling that you can’t seem to shake
- you are a sounding board for everyone else’s problems
- you agonize over problems that seem to have no solutions
- you feel burnt out
- your creativity has reached a halt
- you are easily irritable
- activities or get togethers that should be fun become “another thing to do”
- you feel directionless
If any of these statements describe you, and my guess is that many of them do, then you need to invest some time in you!
The 2 Types of Personal Time
First of all, personal time is a form of rest or down time. Typically when we think of rest, we think of sleep. Sleep is definitely a part of rest but it’s not the only way to rest. There are two types of rest that give us the personal time we need: physical rest and mental rest
Physical rest comes in the form of sleep or even physical relaxation where your body is getting a break from its usual vigor. Something as simple as sitting down after you’ve been on your feet all day is a form of physical rest/relaxation as is taking a bubble path or getting a massage.
Benefits of Physical Rest
Physical rest allows your body to repair itself from the daily stresses and strains, and allows you to alleviate stress which is a major contributor to a variety of health problems. The amount of sleep you get also has direct correlations with the health of your metabolism and immune system.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people never consider the affect their crazy lifestyle has on their health. I can say that because I was one of those people.
Many creative jobs are mentally exhausting. When you tack on the general mental exhaustion that comes with solving life’s everyday problems it’s no wonder that people sometimes are more exhausted and unstable mentally rather than physically.
Mental rest is anything that takes your mind off your problems, off work, or allows you to shift your focus. Mental rest can come in the form of watching TV, catching up with a friend, day dreaming, reading, journaling, taking a walk, or doing something that you find relaxing and enjoyable.
Benefits of Mental Rest
Taking time to mentally pause actually helps your brain problem solve, clarify and retain new information, reflect, develop new ideas and dream. Mental rest also helps your emotional and creative state. The more down time you have to yourself, the better you can balance out your emotions. The more emotionally stable you are, the more you can give to others and your art. You will also realize that it’s often in moments of stillness that you have permission to dream and unsurface the creativity buried deep in your soul that can only come out if you give it the chance to.
Have you ever found yourself stuck on something to the point where you had to step away from it? Have you noticed that often the answer or a sudden burst of genius or clarity comes when you’re not thinking about the issue or have had time away? That’s a prime example of the mental benefits of rest.