A lot of people find it hard to feel OK when they’re not doing something productive. Whether that thing is something work-related, cleaning the house, or doing something to take care of themselves, like exercising or meditating. Although, In order to stay strong over the long haul, you’ve got to embrace downtime and restore your mind. This is time when you’re not doing anything in particular. Time when you’re just chilling and you get to be a human being instead of a ‘human doing’. I think of downtime like white space — which is a design term for “the empty spots around the edges of the main content or images that give your eyes a place to rest”.
“Press Pause” On Your Mind and Embrace Downtime
Here’s one thing I’ve learned from working for myself for 17 years–there will be busy times, and there will be slow times. They are both stressful, in different ways. When you’re busy, you feel like you’re never caught up. And when it’s slow, you’re worried it will never pick up again. So it’s easy to fret and get into a tizzy trying to scare up work or take care of non-work-related stuff. And then, when you do inevitably get busy again, you kick yourself for not enjoying your downtime when you had it.
Downtime is how you restore yourself. It gives you time to process, and time to just be in the moment. It’s a pause, and a lot of healing happens in that pause. Even when it’s not your choice to pause. And even when it feels wrong to pause. Building in some white space into your life will help you have more stamina for when things are busy. It will also help you have less stress when they aren’t.
Embrace Downtime and Restore Your Mind
If you’re busy now and time is feeling like it’s at a total premium, maybe your downtime is only a few minutes here and there. This could include a minute or two after you pull into the parking lot and before you get out of your car. Maybe its the cup of coffee you have by yourself before everyone else in your house is up and about. Or when you first sit down at your desk before you turn your computer on. Just chill, take some breaths. And then maybe you can find a little more time every few days, or on the weekend, to do something a little more substantial. My favorite way to spend a larger chunk of downtime is lying down on the couch (that used to be my grandmother’s) that’s on our covered porch and reading. Ideally, I doze off. In the winters, it’s a bath.
If you’re not that busy, it’s a great time to get a little more intentional about your downtime. Be sure that your downtime isn’t just automatically binge watching. I love binge watching as much as the next person, but that’s entertainment, and not necessarily recuperative. But if you can say I’m dedicating 20 minutes to true downtime a day, you’ll build the habit that will make it easier to keep in your routine when things do get back to full swing.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment for today is to give yourself some white space today. I don’t care if it’s one minute. Just challenge yourself to let go of doing anything for as long as you can muster. And notice how it helps you head back into the doing feeling a little more fortified.