“I’m exhausted and I think it’s because I don’t take enough downtime.”
This is what one of my coaching clients is dealing with.
Can you relate?
If you can, you are going to be surprised at the outcome of this coaching session.
Together, my client and I dove into what “enough downtime” meant for her. This lead us to her beautifully color-coded daily planner.
What we discovered was she had plenty of downtime planned in her schedule.
After peeling the onion, layer by layer, she discovered she was taking the downtime, but she didn’t feel like she experienced any of the benefits.
So, what was happening during her downtime?
There were distractions.
She wasn’t present during her “me time”.
Like anything else in life, we have to be there in the moment to have the experience, no matter what it is.
If you’re not present in the moment, you’re going to miss your “me time.”
It means being intentional and committing to your downtime. It is sacred and should be treated as such.
It’s not about how much downtime you have that matters. It’s about how you show up for it – for yourself.
But isn’t the point of downtime to NOT have all that pressure of showing up a certain way – to just let your mind wander and NOT have to be accountable to anyone or anything?
Well, the answer is both yes and no.
Yes. It’s your time to let all the stress go. To stop worrying. To stop doing all the “shoulds” on your list. Yes, this time is about you and no one else.
And the answer is also no. You can’t be distracted during your downtime.
Here’s an example.
You decide you need some time to yourself and you’re going to indulge in some Netflix binging. And while you’re watching you are also scrolling on your phone.
Before you know it, the first episode is over and you have no clue what is going on. You fall asleep because you were never fully invested or present. Netflix keeps popping up the the next episode and the next.
When you wake, you beat yourself up for not even making it through your downtime as you had planned. You also know that you’re not going to be able to fall asleep tonight because you took a 2 hour nap. You also know, that tomorrow is probably going to suck because you know you’ll be exhausted.
That is the exact opposite of what downtime is intended to do.
Downtime is supposed to be your time to relax and get reenergized.
Here’s another example.
You grab your phone and go for a walk. Someone from work calls and it becomes a stressful conversation. You’re not paying any attention to your walk. You don’t notice the warm breeze, birds chirping, or the new spring blooms. You’re present with work but not with your downtime.
You get back home and you’re more stressed than when you left. Ugh.
Here Are 6 Ways to Stay Present During Your Downtime.
- No scrolling. You can have your phone on you for emergencies but other than that, don’t look at it during your downtime.
- No multitasking. Focusing on only one thing allows you to be present and take in the entire experience you’ve chosen – be it a bubble bath, a walk, reading or working on a project you’re interested in.
- Make downtime a consistent priority. Try to keep it at the same time of day. Then it becomes a habit, and you know you can count on yourself to take the time.
- Don’t let others in unless they are part of your planned downtime – for example, if you’re working on a project with a friend.
- Tell others you will be unavailable for the time being.
- Get creative with how you spend downtime. Something active like gardening, walking or baking can help you unwind more-so than a nap. If it’s something that interests you and lights you up, you’ll be more likely to be fully present.
Remember, the challenge is not finding more free time. The challenge is being present in order to realize the benefits of relaxing and getting reenergized.