MOST of us are skilled multi-taskers. We have to be.
We're bombarded by emails and mobile phone calls and, if we work and live with others, there's always people in our personal space.
Of course it's wonderful to have contact with others, especially with those we care about.
But for our mental and physical health, we need a regular break from this constant buzz of activity.
One of the best ways to get it is to have your own private sanctuary or escape.
That's right, you can create a space just for yourself and it doesn't have to be expensive or complicated.
It just has to be somewhere you spend a little time turning into your own getaway, where you can just relax, read a book, listen to music, or even write in a journal.
If you feel a little guilty about the idea of it - you always put other peoples' needs ahead of your own - consider this.
"No-one can love and care for others if they're sick and tired," says psychologist Dr Tim Sharp of the Happiness Institute in Sydney.
"We need the wisdom to care for ourselves.
"This can be made easier if we have a personal space where we can find peace and quiet."
Research shows that having a place you can get away to, even if it's only a special corner in a room of your house, can actually improve your mental and physical health.
That's because it can help us come out of "fight or flight" mode where our nervous system is on high alert and reduce our blood pressure, our heart rate and our stress hormones.
Making it your own
The first step is to find a place, indoors or outdoors that you can turn into an escape.
For some people it might be the classic backyard shed but for others it might look more like a library, an arts and craft studio or a meditation retreat.
Don't worry - you don't have to have a whole room or even a large space - although obviously, that helps.
Even an empty corner in a bedroom, or living room will work. Just tell the family it's yours and put a comfortable chair there.
A space that has dimmable lights is good. But if not, you may want to get a standing lamp that you can adjust the light on.
Candles are another great way to create a nurturing atmosphere. Choose scented candles if you like, although natural beeswax candles are a great choice because they're toxin free.
You might also add a favourite rug, or even some indoor plants.
If you can't paint the walls in colours that you love, look for accessories in soothing colours, then get busy on some final, finishing touches.
Accessories that will help make your space special include music - have a sound system on which you can play your favourite CDs, or listen to your favourite radio station; favourite artworks or photos, or meaningful mementoes.
Add some magazines and books too so you can spend some quiet time reading or a guide to meditation so you can practise unwinding your body and mind.
Once you've created your special space, diary some time to spend there every day. Try 15 minutes after work or dinner to start with.
By the way, your personal sanctuary is just that - personal. If others want in, encourage them to create their own special place.
Things to do in your sanctuary
- Read a book, even a trashy one
- Write in a journal
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