The Silent Suffocation: How Neglecting ‘Me Time’  Harms You and Those Around You 

November 28, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-silentsuffocation

In the whirlwind of responsibilities, the constant connection to social media, and the assumption from certain jobs that being on call 24/7 is the norm, alongside access to global news, fueled by an unwavering pursuit of success, we often overlook the essence that sustains our well-being — “me time.” We have a responsibility to reclaim these moments; it isn’t merely a luxury or an unrealistic utopia.

From my daily work perspective, I believe the world would function better with more me time.

Our relationships would be more fulfilling, devoid of unnecessary resentment and conflicts, and we would more easily grow into who we aspire to be, rather than passive actors in the day to day.

In this article I will explore the complexities of sacrificing “me time” by  fostering a conversation around owning the responsibility to make time for a deeper connection with ourselves and those we love. 

In a world that glorifies busyness, sacrificing “me time” may seem heroic. Yet, the paradox lies in this silent toll, leaving us gasping for air, needing space to think, to understand our feelings, and engage in activities we enjoy for ourselves — sometimes, it falls to the simple act of ‘taking a breath’. The stigma surrounding self-care isn’t just a societal whisper; it’s a deafening voice that echoes in our minds, convincing us that prioritising ourselves is a betrayal, selfish, or indicative of not doing a good enough job to deserve that time. In the quest for success, many driven professionals dismiss the idea of self-care as a weakness or a fluffy concept, a reality I witness daily. 

A few examples on how neglecting yourself can hurt you:

I once worked with a lady named Kelly, whose unwavering devotion to her career led her to a point of suffocation due to overwhelming fatigue, mental fog, and constant self-doubt. This not only affected her mental well-being, but also the clarity she once had to lead her team. The impact on others? A decline in team morale and collaboration. Her overwhelming fatigue and lack of clarity cast a shadow on the once-vibrant atmosphere, affecting individual and collective performance. Colleagues felt the strain of her constant stress, leading to misunderstandings, communication breakdowns, and a general sense of unease within the team.  

Suffocation at work intensifies as personal relationships bear the weight of our neglected well-being. Once vibrant and connected, another client, James, was on the edge of emotional collapse. The lack of “me time” had created a wall between him and his loved ones, leaving an unsettling void of disconnection. Slowly, this eroded the foundation of his marriage, leaving his partner feeling like a stranger in their home. The long-term belief running in his mind was that if he didn’t keep giving more, he wouldn’t achieve and be worthy of love. In reality, giving more had the opposite result.

Oversatured, he couldn’t listen to his own state of mind. Ultimately, he felt  disconnected to himself. After considerable work, and an emphasis on the importance of ‘me time’, we have changed what was once a dangerous belief system – ‘I matter’ at the forefront of his mind. He is worthy of love, even when he prioritises himself. With this mentally, he no longer carries the wired belief that neglecting his needs would end in rejection. In order to truly connect with yourself and others, disconnection for the self is paramount.  

The responsibility to reclaim ‘me time’ is not a mere luxury; it is a vital component of maintaining our mental and emotional well-being.

By prioritising the self, we minimise the harm we cause to others because we are overwhelmed — lack of ‘me time’ can manifest in anger, poor communication, blaming, distancing and a general lack of patience. My main tip would be to remain aware; watch what you say to yourself and others. Your brain believes what you tell it and you can turn your words into a reality. For example, saying “I don’t have the time” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, locking us into a cycle of perpetual distractions and depriving ourselves of selfcare. Days may be short, but creativity knows no bounds. Be resourceful, ask for help, and create little pockets of time for you, always.  

Marwa, a parent juggling family life, found creative ways to carve out moments for herself, even in the chaos of parenting. By communicating with her partner and expressing the need for self-care, she saw significant improvements in her well-being. By doing so, she strengthened her family bonds with her happier, calmer presence and states she feels closer to her husband.

We often forget how important ‘me time’ is for self-satisfaction. Feeling overwhelmed, a lack of patience and unjust reactions to those around us can create uncomfortable atmospheres where everybody is on edge.

Since Marwa felt happier in herself, her husband is more involved in their family life; they love spending time together, creating a harmonious atmosphere that contrasts starkly with the previous sense of tension caused by neglecting ‘Me Time.’ Marwa realised that she was neglecting herself and felt increasingly more resentful. Saying yes to me, Marwa’s entire family dynamic changed, making a positive impact on all involved.  

Limiting beliefs surrounding ‘me time’ and the fear of being seen as selfish act as a tight noose, restricting our ability to be free. Recognizing that prioritising ourselves isn’t selfish but essential – we need it to survive and thrive. As soon as we reconstruct the belief that self care is selfish, we regain clarity and purpose. Taking ownership of “me time” is not selfish; it’s a responsibility. It’s a declaration that we are beings of connection, but we are also not designed to be constantly connected to others. The incessant demands of social media, often falsely labelled as “me time,” contribute to stress rather than genuine rejuvenation. Slowing down, looking inward, and addressing our deepest needs require intentional, uninterrupted moments of bliss.  

Find something you can find solitude in; whether it be cycling, walking, sewing, cooking, reading, drawing, listening to music, writing, or learning a new skill. This is something FOR you, that will make YOU happy. Work is challenging and demanding for most, and often, we become consumed with our commitments – do not miss that meeting, the football match, the doctor’s appointment, the gym class, or social gathering.

Keep going until the list is clear… I worked with Mandy, who particularly struggled with constant work demands, and after our sessions together, began to understand that having boundaries aren’t bad. By communicating with his boss, his colleagues and setting boundaries, he not only improved his mental health but also fostered a healthier work environment where he enjoyed going to work. The silent suffocation caused by sacrificing ‘me time’ is a lonely existence that demands our attention. It’s not just about reclaiming personal well-being; it’s about breaking free from the shackles that hinder our relationships, cloud our professional success, and leave us yearning for the life-giving breath of self care.  

Flora Castillon

Limiting Beliefs Specialist

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