Do you put a lot of value on outcomes and achievements? If you do, you may have a difficult time understanding the benefits of down time. High achievers tend toward seeing down time as being too unproductive, or literally a “waste of time.” I assure you, it’s not. In fact, it is a requirement to avoid burnout and fatigue. Here’s why:
- Down time rejuvenates you
- Down time allows your brain to rest and reset
- Down time frees up space for creativity
- Down time lets you connect with yourself
- Down time helps prevent depression
- Down time offers you some perspective
Down time is designed to get you out of the fast-lane of life and onto the country back road. Down time allows you to experience (and appreciate) the things you work so hard for, such as your family, your hobbies and your environment. Each day that you are working or focused on responsibilities, you can’t fully be in the moment with those you are working for: yourself and your family. What’s the point of all that work if you never let yourself experience the joy of it?
In some cultures, down time is built into the structure of society. In Spain the daily siesta (meaning nap) is a short nap taken in the early afternoon. Even in modern secular society, most employment requires a limit on hours worked in a day or days worked in a row. This is to prevent exhaustion and burnout. France introduced the Right To Disconnect bill in 2017 and Ireland introduced it by law in 2021.
Whether you prefer down time to be daily, weekly, monthly, or annually; you should build it into your life as a way to disconnect from what you think matters most and reconnect with what really does matter most.
Here are some ways to build down time into your life:
✓15 minutes of journaling
✓30 minutes of reading
✓One-on-one time with family or a friend
✓Movie night at home
✓Family game night
✓Sunday dinner (with friends or family)
✓Naps (the best!)
✓Host or attend a dinner with friends or even with the people you live with!
✓Volunteer in your community (lots of parks and common areas have rubbish collecting groups)
✓Engage in a social activity outside your home (even if right now this means only meeting up with one other household)
✓Go to a movie (or have an at home movie night)
✓Complete an art or hobby project (jigsaws are great!)
✓Visit a gallery or theatre
✓Host or attend a family reunion
✓Take a vacation (this can even be time off work or changing your normal schedule)
✓Go on a trip somewhere you’ve never been in your own country
✓Engage in a sporting event (5k walk or run)
How you engage in your down time isn’t as important as the fact that you need to do it to avoid burnout. Most of all, your example will teach others that it is important to engage in down time to prevent their own fatigue and deterioration of their quality of life. Pick your favorite forms of down time and watch your personal satisfaction increase while your fatigue diminishes.