Work Hard

The importance of embracing downtime

Did you know that regular relaxation improves your mood and reduces anxiety? Nicki Cawood looks at how downtime can benefit your personal and professional life and why we should schedule it in...

Written by High Life North
Published 27.12.2019

By Nicki Cawood

Do you feel that you are caught in a hamster-wheel setup and have to keep running or you’ll fall down?

You aren’t the only one. Trying to cram as much as possible into each day seems to have become the “norm”. Between work, running a business, raising a family, running a home and everything else we have to do, spare time is scarce. Despite this, we all need to realise the importance of embracing downtime.

The importance of downtime

Downtime, self-care, a Hygge lifestyle, there are many names associated with looking after yourself. Downtime is very Instagram-worthy, of course, but why is it important in everyday life? The answer is simple. Giving your body and your mind time to rest, to refocus and to re-energise will aid all aspects of your life. You will more motivated. You will be able to refill your creative bucket, i.e. be in the mindset to look at things a different way. You will avoid burnout, reduce sick time, promote good mental health and enjoy a more balanced way of living.

Use downtime productively

Downtime does not necessarily mean binge-watching your favourite shows on Netflix or indulging in fluffy bubble baths. Effective downtime is time away from the pressures of work and life to do something you want to do which will add value to your life. What this might be at any given time will depend on you. By using your downtime productively you can learn a new practical skill, gain new experiences, focus on exercise, take up a new hobby, take a course to benefit your business or read something insightful.

Make time for downtime

We know downtime is essential for health, happiness, growth and better work-life balance, but how do we find the time? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write out your schedule for a few days. Not just meetings, calls and the more obvious things we spend our time on. Include grocery shopping, housework, school runs, dentist appointments and other essentials. Now consider ways you might be wasting time. Put this information together and you’ll start to see where you could free up little pockets of time to concentrate on you.

Give yourself a noise break

Did you know that it is very easy to reduce stress and give yourself a break outside of dedicated downtime? Turn down the volume. Pick up a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for work time. Find quiet places to work or enjoy leisure time and tackle digital noise. While writing this piece I’ve had five Facebook notifications, two from Instagram, three from Twitter, a couple from LinkedIn, a ding from WhatsApp and a call from someone wanting to talk about the car accident that wasn’t my fault. I find that switching off these distractions off makes for a more productive and less frustrating day. The more productive your day, the more likely you will be to have time to dedicate to your own all-important downtime.

Do you schedule in regular downtime into your week? If not, what’s stopping you?

About the author

  Nicki Cawood is a Yorkshire-based freelance copywriter and founder of the Thirsk Coworking Group.
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