• Mae K

How I stopped feeling guilty about downtime - Part 1

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

You finally get a moment to yourself to sit down and relax. You’ve got your coffee, a book (and silence to read it in!) and a comfy couch. You can’t wait to soak it all in. You deserve it.

But your eyes keeps wandering to the dirty dishes in the sink and your brain to the dentist appointment you forgot to reschedule. And you can’t shake that feeling that there are a million other things you should be doing with your time.

Before you know it, you’re feeling way too guilty about relaxing to enjoy it. The word LAZY is on replay in your mind.

We know self-care is good for us (and if you don’t, just google the effects of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ on your body) and while it can be a struggle, most of us try to make time for it. But actually enjoying it and letting ourselves relax is a whole other ball game.

Maybe you struggle to enjoy your downtime for the same reasons I do:

  • I know there are chores to do and if I don’t do them now, I’ll just have to do them later (inability to be in the present moment).

  • Resting is lazy. Our culture prides hardworking individuals (limiting cultural belief).

  • I have so little free time and so many things I want to do with it, that even when I decide on something, I’m worried about all the things I’m missing out on (FOMO).

  • I KNOW other people, my good friends even, aren’t sitting around watching a movie on Saturday morning. They have their shit together, I should too (social comparison).

These thought blocks are significant barriers - it took me a burn out and a lot of work with a coach to figure out some strategies to blast through them.

Here's one strategy I think might help if you’re also finding it hard to appreciate your downtime:

I set an intention at the beginning of the day, not for what I want to accomplish or get done, but for how I want to feel.

I do this by taking a moment to centre myself (sometimes with a quick meditation), which helps me tune into what my mind, body and/or soul need and want for the day.

Sometimes I realize I’m full of energy and want to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Sometimes I realize I feel burnt out and need to take it easy.

Sometimes I feel frazzled by my to-do list and want to feel organized.

Then, my next question is always:

What do I need to prioritize throughout the day to get that?

What decisions should I make about what to do with my time so that I can get that feeling?

When I catch myself thinking What should I do now? I go back to my original intention. Oh ya, I wanted to get organized. I think I'll work on the budget.

This way, I don’t feel bad about what I have or haven’t done or worry about what I need to do next. If I decide to take some downtime, I don't feel bad because I've either been intentional about it, or can relax into it, knowing I've done what I wanted to do for the day already.

Could you see yourself being more intentional about your day from the get go, so that you can truly relax when you decide to take some downtime?

Watch for Part 2 of How I stopped feeling guilty about downtime next Friday. Sign up here to get the blog post straight to your inbox.

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