Having downtime is an essential part of any self-care routine. Since the beginning of quarantine, I started to prioritize setting aside time to do things I enjoy. I found that it helps give my days structure and purpose while keeping anxious feelings and thoughts at arm’s-length. For me, that looks like going for my daily walk, baking, TM meditation, reading and at-home workouts (when I’m feeling up to it). It’s been proven that hobbies can decrease stress and improve brain function, heart health and overall mood. Hobbies also help us better connect with others, which can positively impact our self-worth and self-esteem.
Setting aside time to practice self-care and indulge in things that make you happy is one way you can show up for yourself. When you’re busy, it’s easy to reframe overworking as hustling – and when you’re feeling low mood, you can be easily swept away by negative thoughts. Even with limited social engagements and more time spent at home, it can be hard to give yourself permission to enjoy a few minutes of downtime. Especially if you’re WFH, the boundary between personal and professional time can be easily blurred. Overworking can lead to burnout and health problems like poor sleep, diabetes and impaired memory. So leisure time isn’t laziness; it’s crucial to physical, mental and emotional health. The mental break also helps boost creativity and productivity!
If you’re new to this idea – or just have trouble enjoying the time you set aside for yourself – it can be easy to criticize and distract yourself with negative thought patterns. It’s important to practice mindfulness by staying present and paying attention to your thoughts. You can do this by setting intentions for your downtime, catching and labeling negative thoughts, noticing how you talk to yourself and periodically checking in with yourself.
I make sure downtime is included in my schedule by treating it like any other important appointment. Blocking out at least 1-2 hours ensures that I respect my downtime without worrying about any scheduling conflicts. If you need an idea on how and where to start, start by batching tasks and practicing the Pomodoro technique!
How do you like to make space for downtime – and actually enjoy it? I’d love to hear your tips!