The Power of Down Time

We live in a culture that thrives on achievement. We are conditioned to always try to do more, to keep our to-do lists spooling out in front of us – many of us have a kind of addiction to the stress of always feeling one step behind.

The downside of this constant pressure to keep going is multifaceted. Our health suffers as we begin to lose sleep and our blood pressure rises. We miss out on spending time with family members, and on the many beautiful aspects of life that create richness and meaning.

Somehow, taking daily walks and maybe having coffee with a friend has become a luxury. History teaches us a different lesson. For hundreds of years, there has been a practice among many wisdom traditions of taking a day of rest every week. This concept is supportive of building community, connecting to meaning, and stepping away from the daily demands of life and work.

While we can recognize the importance of down time on our health and well-being, accomplishing this can prove more challenging. Here’s how you can start to create your own version of down time that truly nourishes you and creates more space and energy to accomplish what you want in your life.

  • Recognize your ‘why’. You have to learn why it matters for you to have down-time. It has to be important enough so that you can start saying ‘no’ to things that will get in the way. Focus on how it feels when you play with your “why”. You’ll know you are on the right track when you feel connected to it from a very deep place inside.
  • Create a non-negotiable time. The hardest part of creating down time may be carving it out consistently every week- but that is where the power is. You know that life will try to creep into every ‘spare’ moment you have. When you set aside a certain day and time to only say yes to what will fill you up, you have to know that you will be saying ‘no’ to a lot of other things.
  • Design a Container. Your down time ideally will start with something that signifies its beginning. You may light a candle, write an intention in a journal, or jog around the block and take a shower. Whatever helps you feel connected to your down time is what you must include. Mark the ending with something equally meaningful. These bookends will help you to keep what you do between them sacred.
  • Fill Yourself up. Down time needs to include only activities that fill you- that means no social media, no mindless television, and no gossip fests. Start paying attention to how you feel after certain activities; include the ones that light you up on a deep level, ban the ones that simply steal your precious moments.

You can start small with your down time. Maybe it’s just an hour every Friday afternoon where you transition from your work week to your week-end. You can expand once you start to see and feel the value in it. Every one of us must take time to recover, renew and reconnect. You will be thrilled once you see how it affects all areas of your life.

Kalia Kelmenson, Certified Wellness Coach :: mauimindandbody.com