Downtime is a necessity for optimal mental functioning during life in general and especially during the rough passages that inevitably arise. Downtime is short periods of time during the day set aside consciously, without goals or objectives. During downtime there is nothing to do or accomplish of any import whatsoever. The idea of giving ourselves time off from responsibilities and accomplishing goals may sound preposterous when there is so much to do yet this is exactly what the mind needs to unwind and to give the brain space to sort itself out. This is what downtime is, space to allow our brains to recharge their batteries and reorganize.
We forget that who each one of us is is a community of trillions of cells organized into systems within our bodies. These cells have individual needs for well-being. When we ignore those needs we diminish our potential and our ability to be as clear and effective as we can be when we attend to those needs. Downtime is one of those needs, one often unrecognized and neglected.
Downtime need not be extensive. Twenty minutes scattered throughout the day in small portions can be sufficient. Giving yourself conscious permission to:
- turn away from the computer screen to gaze out the window for a minute,
- take 10 after a meeting to walk around the block,
- sit down to savor the warmth and flavor of a cup of tea without your phone or computer for 5,
- stop whatever you are concentrating on, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a minute, or
- excuse yourself from whatever to step outside and feel the elements (warmth of the sun, the wet of the rain, or the cold of the wind) on your skin for a few minutes.
The above activities are simple, achievable ways to give yourself downtime during the day. These sample activities, and any others you can think of where you have no goal or objective other than to be and see and feel what is physically around you, are downtime.
Downtime is not spacing out or daydreaming in the middle of a task. A wandering mind is disruptive to accomplishing goals and therefore disruptive to your life. If you are finding yourself spacing out in the middle of conversations or in the midst of a project your brain is telling you it needs more TLC. It is not getting the rest and relaxation necessary for it to function effectively. Among other requirements like sufficient sleep, nourishment, and drinking enough fluids, your brain needs downtime to organize efficiently. Your ability to think creatively, clearly, and effectively will be boosted by inviting your brain to relax for short periods of downtime every day.
Everyone, including you, has the capacity to set aside fifteen or twenty minutes during the day to tune out the hustle and bustle, the necessity to accomplish, the never ending trying to figure out why, when, and how and to let the mind unwind and the brain reintegrate on its own. By doing so you can reinvigorate yourself and return to your tasks renewed. Try it. You won't know the benefits you are missing out on unless you do.
Post written by Lisa Brick
Founder at Power & Purpose Coaching
Partner: Journey Beyond Divorce Coaching