5 Ways to Start Carving Time for Yourself

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You can't give and give endlessly without refilling your own tank. Indeed, without "me" time, a caregiver risks burning out and not be able to give anything. But with all that's on your plate, how can you find 30 or 15 or even 10 minutes just to yourself?

The secret to making time for yourself, life coaches say, is to make yourself a priority. That's the critical first step if it's to happen at all. If you don't think that your needs -- that you -- are important, you can hardly expect anyone else to hand over sacred time to you on a silver platter.

These practical steps will help you wedge a little breathing room into your day:

1. Start by scheduling personal time into your planner, just the way you ink in doctors' appointments and everyone else's needs. This may feel selfish or silly, but it's a critical step.

2. Pick a time early in the day to start -- then you're more likely to stick to it. If you put off making yourself a priority until later in the day, you raise the risk that other events will seem more pressing or crises will take away your time. If you plan to exercise, put workout clothes on the minute you get out of bed. If you want to read, try keeping your reading material on your nightstand and reading a chapter before you get out of bed and greet the rest of the household.

3. Spend your break time indulging yourself: a walk, time for a craft (scrapbooking, painting), a well-made cup of tea, prayer. You may be tempted to spend the time running errands, but that's not renewing in the same way. You don't have to spend a lot of time, but it has to be for yourself.

4. Make it the same time every day. Behavior researchers say it can take three weeks to establish a habit. Carving out the same time each day will reinforce this.

5. Tune out others. Unplug electronics, ignore the phone. No one will fall apart for that brief a period. (And if they might, turn on the TV or arrange someone to relieve you during your "me time.")