We, as a society in America, work. From the moments we open our eyes till the time we go to sleep, most of our waking hours are consumed by some activity associated with work. Some of us work two, three, and sometimes, for the very few, four or more jobs. We do this because that is what we are told to do, based on an idea of the American Dream.
For some, just a look at a Normal Rockwell painting can bring up a preconditioned idea of what life in America is supposed to be like. With such a predisposition for work, we center everything around the job or the career. Schedules are built as such that work dominates every aspect of our lives.
We are either getting ready for work, at work or winding down from work. With all of this work, as Americans, we rarely get much personal downtime. This means our brains are not getting the rest that they need to reset and prolong cognitive ability.
What are the Benefits of Downtime?
Having downtime allows our brain to process all the information that it receives in a single day. As soon as we wake until the time we sleep, and even if we are asleep, we are inundated with a variety of external stimuli.
Facebook, Instagram, CNN, FOX News, Streaming media, red-light cameras, all of it floods us with a constant stream of stimuli, making, somedays, our brains overactive.
Racing thoughts are a byproduct of this and cause us to lay in bed at night until we can sort out all of the variables. Just a few of the benefits from downtime are increases in productivity, creative ability, and motivation.
An Increase in Productivity will bring about amazing changes in your work life, as well as your personal life. Spending time to do the things that you enjoy away from work will allow you to focus on the work that you have to do. An added benefit is that as your productivity at work increases, so does the goodwill that you may have with your company. Downtime can help you get that raise that you are looking for.
The increased creative ability allows you to create the things that you hold dear. If you are an artist, an increase in creativity will allow you to produce better works, which in turn will make you productive, as you have seen the value in the works.
Downtime also will lead to an increase in motivation. The increase in motivation will allow you to feel better about yourself and will also bring about a positive psychic change that will filter through to all areas of your life.
What Can We Do about it?
Here are a few things that will make sure that you have the downtime that you need.
Time-blocking is nothing short of making sure that everything has a time and place. If work lasts from 8 to 5, at 5:01, you should be on your way home. No exceptions. If the weekly cup of coffee with your best friend is scheduled from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM at 10:01 AM you need to be on to your next block.
Meditation is nothing short of clearing your mind so that you can begin to focus on the task at hand. When life gets too hectic, take 5 minutes to re-center yourself and find that state of equilibrium with the world around you.
Exercise has been shown to increase certain chemicals in your brain that lead to healing and feelings of joy. It is also a great stress reliever.
The most important thing is the time when stimuli are none. A quiet room, sitting in your favorite chair, with a book, journal, or art project. Quiet time isn’t “do nothing” time. It is a time for relaxation, reflection, and meditation. Take advantage of your quiet time.