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Why you really need to schedule some alone time this month

 If January is getting you down, spending a couple of hours on your own could help

A beautiful young woman is drinking a cup of hot drink in her bed and looking out of the widow in the morning.
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
8 January 2024
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How much time have you earmarked to spend on yourself in the coming weeks? I'm betting not a lot. While we often have the best intentions to carve out dedicated me time - maybe it was even one of your resolutions for 2024 – it often falls by the wayside, with a statistic from Philips Lumea revealing that women spend less than one per cent of their week on themselves. Yikes!

What makes this even more concerning is that during the winter months, the need to look after ourselves is more important than usual.

"Living in the UK during winter guarantees certain experiences," explains Yetunde Bankole, Lead Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach at Vitality. "The expected poor weather, including the constant rain we’ve been experiencing, has an impact on how we can look after ourselves, particularly limiting us from the outdoors. As such, your options to see friends and family or go for a jog or after-work walk suddenly aren’t as easy as you’d hoped.

headshot of smiling woman in a white top© Robert Ison
Yetunde Bankole is a wellness expert

"Equally, fewer hours of sunlight can have a huge effect on our mood, and with it being dark so early in the day, it’s easy to think you have less time to do the things that support your wellbeing.

"Winter can feel overwhelming so it’s vital to carve out some alone time. Do something that brings you joy on your own and also use the time to reflect on what’s concerning you, what solutions are possible and to build the resilience you need to thrive this year," Yetunde says.

Why do we need to spend time on ourselves?

Yetunde says that the benefits of looking after ourselves are broad, but we need to identify what we need on an individual level, be it through going for a swim, sitting in the steam room or taking a walk before work.

Peaceful and calmness woman with her eyes closed while relaxing sitting on a couch at home.© Getty
Making time for ourselves is crucial during winter

1. Spending time alone helps us stress less

"Depending on how we spend our alone time, it can be beneficial in combating the effects of stress and enhancing our wellbeing," Yetunde explains. "It can help us feel rested and replenished, impacting our resilience positively and increasing how capable we feel to tackle stress that comes in our direction. "

Close up of smiling woman drinking tea outdoors© Getty
Making time for ourselves reaffirms that we're important

2. It keeps us healthy

"Physically, carving out time to exercise, meal prep or eat mindfully can mean you're giving your body the nourishment it needs to stay healthy. Equally, by making time for yourself you might experience benefits to your mood."

 DISCOVER: Have you got a winter mindset? Here's how it's impacting your mood 

3. It improves social connections

"It might sound odd, but building in alone time can boost your social connections too. For example, joining a book club means you need to take time to yourself to read the materials while still keeping you regularly connected to friends and family. "

4. It reminds us we're important

"Spending time on ourselves can be effective for building our self-awareness," says Yetunde.

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"By making the time to address our self-care needs we may experience positive results physically and see our mood and self-esteem improve, reinforcing the importance of spending time on ourselves.

"It reminds us that we are also deserving of the kindness that we may be good at showing to others and not ourselves, especially when we experience the positive effects of spending time on ourselves.

Woman smiling in blue top© Shutterstock
We need to remind ourselves we're worth spending time on

"We may feel guilty for making and spending time on ourselves, but it is the key to improving wellbeing. We are often giving to others in our jobs, relationships, families or various areas of our lives, without replenishing it for ourselves. This can leave us vulnerable to the risk of experiencing burnout and emotional difficulties over time. Not only are we worthy of making time for ourselves, but it is necessary for our wellbeing.

"Spending time on ourselves can also help us to reconnect with the parts of ourselves that we may have neglected in times of stress or increased pressure, and therefore combat the negative effects of this stress and self-neglect."

 READ: Why do I feel happy doing nothing? Experts explain 

How to make time for you

"Identify when you can have time to yourself – whether that’s a full day, a morning, or an afternoon," advises Yetunde. "It’s time that should be spent relaxing and recharging, which means it’s not when you quickly get your washing done or run to the shops no matter how tempting. It’s about making time just for you and by scheduling regular break. You’ll find you have more energy to enjoy social commitments."

Making time for me

With this advice in mind, I decided to dedicate a morning to myself and see if I felt more joy. It was a silly question really, as I chose to spend my solo hours visiting the spa at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square – and I defy anyone not to feel joyful after a few hours in their serene space.

Keen to try something new, I booked in for the Traditional Hammam Ritual - Escape to Taliouine. The treatment sees you lie in a gorgeous marble room on a heated stone bed and begins with a purifying exfoliation using a body scrub, followed by a soothing cleanse with shower milk. At the end of the ritual, my therapist moisturised my skin to relieve tension and regulate the body’s energy.

Spa Hammam at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square© Richard Waite Photography
Spa Hammam at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

I'm fairly good when it comes to applying body lotion daily, and I even make time to use a body scrub a couple of times a week, but having someone else do it for me really made me feel treasured in a way that doing it myself doesn't.

Curious as to why my hammam was just so blissful, I spoke to the spa's manager, Verity Marsh for her verdict on why being scrubbed, cleansed and mositurised by someone else felt quite so soothing.

READ: 5 ways to make every day special – and feel instantly happier

“A hammam helps relax the mind and body, the warm marble helps comfort the body and the soothing and serene setting brings a mediative state to the mind," she said.

My therapist made me feel nurtured, and while my daily shower and moisturise routine can sometimes feel like a chore, this was blissful, and made me rethink my daily rituals. Why shouldn't my shower feel like a treat each day rather than something I must do to start the morning?

It made me think of something life coach Mhairi Todd said once about buying luxe shower oils – if it's going to make a positive impact on something you do daily, why not make a mundane task special? Sure, most of us can't book in for weekly spa sessions, but my time at Trinity Four Seasons' spa made me realise that my daily shower can be a moment of self-care.

gold spa reception
The reception in the spa is incredible

After my hammam session, I made my way into the pool area of the spa, via the opulent reception, which has real gold walls. The pool was an oasis of calm where I spent two whole hours reading a magazine – unheard of in a life where I often pick up magazines on the tube before being distracted by my phone.

Spa Hammam at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square© Richard Waite Photography
Spa Hammam at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Carving time out for myself, when I had nowhere to be and nobody to see, allowing myself to enjoy the simple pleasure of a magazine made me feel more recharged than any of the myriad yoga classes and breathwork sessions I've booked in for last year and I made a note to myself that I must take more time out in 2024. I implore you to do the same.

Find out more about the spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square here. Meanwhile, for those looking for something extra, its sister property, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane offers a Sleep Escape, which has been curated to offer guests the perfect night's sleep through a combination of restorative treatments and a thoughtful turndown service. See more information here.

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