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The Importance of Downtime

Man relaxing in his chair and enjoying the view from terrace.

Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing.

– Winnie the Pooh

Our Non-Stop Society

In our present-day society, it is often encouraged to just “go, go, go, go!” This attitude of non-stop work can have its benefits, but it can certainly have its drawbacks as well. We are often pushed to work so hard and without stopping because we feel like we have to. 

We may need to pay bills and with expenses mounting we have to work many hours to make the money to cover all of these bills and expenses that we have. Or, if our bills are not extremely high and we have enough money to cover the bills, we may want to get a promotion or some sort of advancement in the workplace. With other individuals working hard and long hours, we may feel that we need to at least match them (if not surpass them) in how long and hard we work. 

Often times in this rat race of life we feel like we must continuously work just to keep up with others who are working incredibly hard and long hours. This social comparison can be exhausting and sometimes does not paint an accurate picture of what is actually going on behind the scenes. We may see others working hard, but we may not know what they do to rest, relax, and recover from all this hard work they are engaging in.

There is value in taking a break, finding that downtime. It is important to grasp both why downtime is beneficial as well as ways to make sure that one is engaging in it. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of work and toil, but we will discuss and cover the ways in which one can ensure they are taking time to recharge and recover. Most importantly, we will uncover how taking time to relax can help one be better in different facets of one’s life.

Reasons Why Downtime is Important

There are several reasons why getting some downtime in one’s life is important. These reasons demonstrate how the impact of taking a break can have on one’s physical and mental well-being

When one goes non-stop without taking many breaks this can take a serious toll on the body and mind. When one stays extremely active, it can be difficult (if not impossible) for the body to recover if one does not take some downtime. Recovery is extremely important for the body to recoup after exercise. This is also true for those who have jobs that are physical in nature. Just as exercises need to take rest days, those who work in manual labor need rest days as well.

Recovering the body is important and so is recovering the mind. If one does not give one mental space to take breaks, it is likely that one’s mental capacity and functioning will suffer. Trying to maintain focus for a long period of time can be detrimental to one’s ability to focus moving forward.

If one keeps going nonstop with doing mentally taxing things like reading, math, or complex problem solving they may find a point where they are not able to do even the simplest of tasks due to mental exhaustion.

How and When to Take Downtime

As previously mentioned, we live in a society that demands hard work and perseverance in order to succeed and advance. Many people, due to their financial situation may find themselves in a position where they must work long hours day after day and month after month. Even if you find yourself in the position where you can not take many days off or take a vacation, there are still things you can do to achieve some downtime and, in turn, reap the rewards of taking downtime. 

Young woman with cup of hot beverage lying in bed

To start, though, the most important and best thing one can do to get some downtime is to try and take some breaks. Scheduling these breaks is important. Just as you would schedule work or different events, schedule breaks for yourself. If you can take long breaks such as days off or vacations, it is advised to do so as these lengthy breaks will provide you the most relief and recovery. If you cannot afford to take days off or vacations, schedule breaks for yourself throughout your day as much as you can. 

Aside from scheduling breaks, days off, and vacations for yourself another way to achieve downtime is performing relaxation techniques. Utilizing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization or imagery can help one get a break from the hustle and bustle of life both physically and mentally. 

When we are not able to take breaks and keep working without giving ourselves space to disconnect from the stress that work brings. Engaging in relaxation techniques can help one cope with the stress of work and regain some clarity.

Taking Care of Yourself is the Key to Success

It is a good thing to be a hard worker and to be disciplined and dedicated to one’s craft. It is important to be responsible and pay one’s bill and take care of all the chores and work one needs to accomplish. However, it can be dangerous to one’s overall health to continuously work without taking any breaks. 

Taking breaks and getting some downtime can be very beneficial to one’s overall well-being, including one’s mental and physical well-being. Scheduling breaks is important and should be done on a daily basis. It is a good idea to try to get away and take vacations when one can reset and recharge one’s battery. Overall, taking occasional breaks and achieving some downtime can help one be more productive and more efficient moving forward.

References:

https://hbr.org/2012/12/the-upside-of-downtime

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-importance-of-downtime_n_6301440?utm_hp_ref=sleep-wellness

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/

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