Do you ever find your schedule so packed that you can’t even fathom taking time for yourself to do… nothing? Does the thought of doing nothing create a feeling of longing in you? Do you feel guilty when you do manage to find down time? Do you spend your down time thinking about all the things you could or should be doing?
You busy little bee, you…
Or, are you like me, and you actually schedule time into your week to make sure you’re NOT doing anything? I’m proud of this. Like… SORRY, NOT SORRY… it is so important to me that there is time in my day (or nowadays, my week, since I spend a significant amount of time home, alone) where I don’t have to look at another person, or hear them, or give a crap about what they want and need. I don’t have to worry about the things that make a household run. I don’t have to THINK. I get to sit in my apartment and forget that everything else exists.
Friend having a big party? Sending my regrets… large social gatherings aren’t my gig (I’ll offer to meet her for dinner some other time).
Overflowing dishes in my kitchen sink? Whatever.
Litter box needs cleaning? The cat can wait.
Grocery shopping needs to be done? Meh… that’s what takeout is for.
Laundry needs to be put away? Throw it back in the hamper for now.
First off, let’s be clear: When you are finally taking that much-needed down time, there is absolutely NOTHING ELSE that you “should” be doing. There are things you “could” be doing, but in those precious minutes that you’ve found for yourself, there’s nothing more important than self care. (There’s a huge difference between should and could here, and I really need you to understand the difference.)
Whether that’s sitting quietly, reading, taking a walk, snuggling with your cat, or mindlessly watching TV… there is NOTHING more important than that in that moment in time.
You might be Super Wife, or Super Mom, or Super Sister/Daughter/Friend/Employee, but you’re still YOU and YOU deserve to take a damn break and not feel guilty about it.
Everyone needs to recharge their batteries! You can’t start fresh and give everyone your all when you’re already depleted. That’s not very fair to them or you!
My preferred method of “down time” happens to be TV. Sometimes, planning an hour, an afternoon, or even a whole damn day (or weekend, if you’re really committed to your craft) to do nothing but veg out on the couch and watch TV is just what the doctor ordered. I know, I know… obesity epidemic, people mindlessly eating and watching TV, blah blah blah… but let’s put on our big kid panties for a second, and realize that WE are in control of what we DO. So the perfect antidote to all of my running and cross training is to spend REST DAY SUNDAY sitting on my ass in front of the TV. And thus, the perfect antidote to all of my sitting around is running and cross training… funny how that works.
YES, I try very hard to make sure I don’t make other plans on Sundays so that I can watch TV and recover from my long run the day before.
YES, I do drag my tired, sore body from the couch to walk around my apartment (or if I’m feeling adventurous, my neighborhood) to get some blood flowing to my extremities and work out those post-long run kinks.
YES, I will spend hours on the couch, watching episode after episode of whatever show I’m currently binge-watching (this week it’s True Blood).
YES, I fall asleep on the couch with the remote in my hand.
NO, I do not feel guilty for this. And neither should you.
When I left my job, I was a little shocked. All I could muster was back-to-back days of binge-watching TV (as a result, I plowed through five seasons of Shameless on Netflix). I felt kind of guilty about it at first, but after discussing it with my career counselor and my therapist, both said that it sounded like something I needed to do. I had just left a stressful job and wasn’t accustomed to not having a structured day. I had been very unhappy for a long time. I felt like I had PTSD. So I zoned out, and it was heavenly.
Of course, TV doesn’t have to be your poison. There are tons of other things you could do that would feel more productive (if that’s what you need) – crafting, reading, learning a language, taking an online course, walking the dog. Whatever helps you relax and recharge is what you need to do.
Whether your down time is in small snippets spread out over the week, or your down time is an epic lazy-fest, it doesn’t matter. But you DO need to find the time to rest. I know it can be hard (especially with kids!), but you need to rely on your personal network for help here. Don’t hesitate to ask the people in your life for help here – you probably help them all of the time, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for you to ask for some support. Don’t be shy!
I challenge you to find just 10 minutes every single day this week to do something that lets you recharge your batteries. Let me know what you ended up doing!