When you find a moment of downtime, what are you likely to do?
- Write an email, text or make a phone call
- Relax and relish the moment
- Take care of a chore, errand or look for something to do
An overwhelming majority of us tend to choose A or C over B. During this moment in time, we are more prone to distraction than ever. We spend most of our lives working hard to accomplish our goals, take care of loved ones and make a living Our busy schedules rule our lives and much of this time is devoted to being in the presence of others. But contrary to popular belief, the self needs some solitude and downtime.
Many of us are uncomfortable spending time alone for self-care and relaxation. . For some, perhaps it’s the guilt that creeps up around what we think of as “being lazy” or selfish by putting aside the to-do list. For others with a nonstop agenda the most challenging part is finding the time to break away and disconnect. But another less talked about reason we are prone to distracting ourselves versus taking in the peace and quiet is fear. Without practice or skill, it can be intimidating to “just be.” Within the moments of solitude and downtime, doubts or worries are likely to arise because we focus inward rather than outward. But once we let those worries go and just enjoy the present, we gain focus, clarity and learn how to cope better with our ever-shifting moods, emotions and lives.
When we are alone, we receive a break from the judgments and pressure put on us from the outside world. We learn to rely on ourselves and make our own decisions, which gives us a higher sense of purpose and boosts our self esteem. Ultimately we are rewarded with more energy, perspective and confidence.
Here are five keys to getting the most out of downtime:
- Schedule time for you. Write it in your calendar and follow through as if this scheduled time is a meeting or important date.
- Turn off technology for a set period of time and give yourself a break from texting, emailing, talking on the phone or focusing on the lives of others.
- Shake off any feelings of guilt around breaking away and truly cherish the time spent in the absence of others. Work on self-forgiveness and letting go of judgments and shoulds.
- When alone, take the time to get know yourself and your preferences and reconnect with your own desires. Try new activities and see what unexpected surprises you come across that leave you feeling inspired.
- Notice the benefits received from time alone such as increased focus, self-esteem, happiness and energy.
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