I hate to say it, but anxiety, stress and unhappiness are an epidemic. Thanks to technology, social media and the expectation of constantly answering to others, our world has taken accountability to a new level, one which has caused so much added stress, frustration, and panic, almost, which eventually leads to wrong priorities and unhappiness. There are countless articles on managing anxiety and being happier, but I have one idea that I feel will surely help.
I’m here to suggest that we all schedule some downtime and/or time off on our calendars for 2019, myself included. Studies show that breaks, vacations, staycations, and time away from work make us more productive, less stressed, and more creative. Yet so many of us don’t even break for lunch every day! The world, and your work, will look a whole lot better when you step away for a bit.
We can’t all take elaborate vacations or even substantial time away from work. However, we can all take some time away from work throughout the day. Schedule in a lunch break and a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break EVERY DAY. Track your productivity and you will see that those breaks lead to greater, not less, productivity. Set an end time to work every day and then put your technology away and be present to your surroundings. There is no greater gift you can give yourself than some quiet, reflective personal time.
Put all of these times on your calendar. Seriously! Your time off is every bit as important as all of those meetings you go to. Keep those scheduled times as sacred recovery time. Take a walk, a quick nap, call a friend, read a book, or just sit and look out at the world. Your emotional and physical health will improve and so will your attitude toward the world.
I’m committing to doing this myself. Let’s keep each other accountable. Let me know how you are doing with your newly scheduled time off.
Editor’s note: Lisa is right!! If you want a better quality of life, and you want to enjoy life more, downtime is key. But, no one gets downtime unless he or she plans it. My dad used to say, “Fun is a job.” What he meant by that was, you have to make planning fun and leisurely activities a priority. Treat it like a job. Like you are a travel agent. But even like Lisa said, you don’t have to plan extravagant, expensive vacations to experience downtime.
Downtime can be doing a yoga class twice a week. I mean, really committing to it on a regular basis. Sometimes I feel like if I do the yoga class, I won’t have time to finish everything else I need to get done by the end of the day. But still, I go. And guess what? I usually manage to somehow find a way to finish everything, and I have never, ever regretting doing the yoga class. In other words, I’ve never said, “Boy, I wish I wouldn’t have done yoga this morning.” On the contrary, I feel relaxed and happy and so much less bothers me after doing a yoga class. The effects last all day!
Downtime can also mean walking your dog, or if you work from home, going into your bedroom for 10 minutes and just practice deep breathing. Downtime can mean a pedicure, window shopping, real shopping (I’m talking about things for you–NOT the grocery store!), having a cup of tea and just sitting there doing nothing, having a glass of wine and sitting there doing nothing, or a date with a girlfriend or a spouse.
The benefits of breaks and downtime and time off are countless. Physically they are proven to be beneficial, and people who give themselves the gift of downtime are: happier, less moody, less anxious, more productive, more creative, more energetic, less burned out, better parents, better daughters (or sons), better wives (or husbands), better friends, and more optimistic.
People who deny themselves downtime, breaks or time off tend to be: bitter, angry, filled with anxiety, short-tempered, full of excuses, less productive, mean, snippy, less attractive, and they don’t smile or laugh as much as those who don’t deny themselves downtime.
This holiday season, and into 2019, you deserve breaks, time off and downtime. Like brushing your teeth or showing up at your job or getting gas or making dinner for your family, scheduling downtime should be a huge priority. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve it.
Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.” George H.W. Bush actually referred to Ferris and this quote in an interview in his later years. He said something to the effect that Ferris was right, and that we all needed to stop and enjoy life every day. He is right. If you think about it, when you look back on things in life, it’s not working at your desk that you remember, is it? But dates and vacations, and having coffee and scenery are the things that our mind keeps in our memories as precious. You can never have too much of that!
Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
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