We ALL Need Downtime, Including You

calm self love stress management success principles you deserve more Sep 13, 2021
the importance of self-care

Raise your hand if you could use a little downtime.

If I asked this question to a group of people, I have a feeling that most everyone would have their hand up – if not both hands. Even if you love what you do for a living, have a happy home life, have wonderfully supportive friends and all the other great things that we all strive for, we all need downtime.

Of course, there would be at least a few people who would not have their hand raised. Maybe a few even just returned from a vacation, so they may be feeling relatively refreshed. Although, let’s be honest. Even when we return from a vacation, most of us put off downtime so much so that we would easily sign up for another right away, right?

Unfortunately, though, there would be some in this group who would still have their hands in their lap because they feel as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders and fear all of the horrible things that could happen if they were to put that weight down…for even a day. In their minds, they won’t even consider a vacation because they can’t see it as realistically even being possible.

So, where is your hand in this scenario?

I still remember a conversation with a client about exactly this. After a career spent entirely in the corporate world, she had decided it was time to leave that world and start her own business. She had been working relentlessly over the past couple years doing everything involved with starting a business.

After all of that diligent effort, though, she decided that self-employment was not for her. She realized she does better working in an office with people all around because that energizes her. Retirement was also a viable option to consider, but she had decided that she needed to continuing working for at least a few more years in case someone in her family would need a little financial help.

She was completely drained from the past couple years, exhausted from everything she had going on, and was then also feeling overwhelmed being back at square one of another job search.

She was fried. She realized that she needed a quiet retreat that catered to her peace, not a weekend getaway with girlfriends or visiting her significant other’s family. She needed the space in her day to give her the space she needs in her mind so that she can regenerate and reenergize her soul.

However, she fought this idea saying that she couldn’t because she had too much to do, stuck in the go-go-go… But this was all really just a manufactured sense of urgency that comes from a place of fear and overwhelm. (Plus, how can anyone find a job if they show up bringing zero energy to the interview? And once you start said job, when exactly does the vacation time come?)

The bottom-line is that if we are going to continue to show up for the people, causes and goals we care about, then – we all need downtime. If we want to live long, happy, healthy lives and enjoy the journey, then – we all need downtime. Period.

Are you getting enough downtime in your life? Or are you feeling overwhelmed and burned out a bit from continuing the go-go-go?

I think that it often becomes part of our daily habit to keep moving. (I’ll get into why we feel like we have to move as much as we do another time.) Maybe we think that plopping down on the couch and scrolling through social media qualifies as downtime, but it doesn’t. In fact, that stuff pretty much steps in as a placeholder for all the other noise in our minds when what we really need is for all of it to pause so we can hear what is really going on for us.

A couple years ago, I found myself waving both of my hands in the air as if my downtime was driving by and I was trying to get it to stop and pick me up. I was feeling like I had the weight of the world on me and I couldn’t see a window of time that was near enough where I would be able to get away for a few days. The worst part was that I was short with my friends and family. I was in such rough shape that I even lost my love of reading and listening to books!

Even though I knew I needed a vacation, I had so many projects and commitments going on at the same time that I didn’t feel that I could take a vacation for most of the summer. So I created downtime by scheduling a massage or simply closing my computer and actually watching a show or going on a walk. This was the best that I could do until I got to a certain point with a few of my projects.

Then it happened!, As I was catching up with my dear massage friend during one of those downtime massages, it hit me that I had a window of time where I could get out of town for a few days on a vacation! This was it!!

With a sense of urgency and excitement, I left my massage (when we were done, of course!) and I went to figure out where I was going. Within an hour I had booked a one-way flight to San Diego that boarded in ONLY THREE HOURS! I drove home, washed my hair, packed, and off to the airport I went. I left in such a hurry that I didn’t even know where I was going to stay until I landed.

The sense of urgency wasn’t all about catching a flight, though. The sense of urgency came from knowing how much I needed to step out of my daily life for some serious downtime. I had completely ebbed out of balance. I was sacrificing far too many of my needs for longer than was in my best interest. I could no longer realistically continue without a chunk of downtime to myself, physically away from commitments and daily to-dos.

Downtime doesn’t have to mean taking a “vacation” or flying anywhere. Here are a few simple things that you can do to incorporate some downtime into your life daily life:

  • Start a daily practice of visualizing your day before they even get out of bed. Envision yourself navigating your day, handling things that come your way in a calm manner and actually enjoying your day instead of feeling so stressed.
  • Spend at least five minutes meditating (this is manageable!)
  • Spend five more minutes journaling and/or setting a couple goals for the day.
  • At the end of the day, write down at least five things that you are grateful for from throughout your day before you go to bed so that you fall asleep with good thoughts.
  • Remember that it’s entirely okay to simply sit and BE without the need to read a book or make mental lists or anything even remotely “productive.”
  • Find deeper clarity on your priorities and goals, so you are better equipped to say ‘no’ to things that you don’t really want to do.

This is YOUR life and you owe it to yourself to give yourself a break at least once in a while. The irony is that when we step away and take a break for a bit, we will actually come back even stronger, more efficient, clearer in our thinking… than before. So it really can almost become a two-for-one!

What are you waiting for? I know you could use a break. Now what will you do to give yourself a break? You are so worth it!

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