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We tend to feel like we’re measured by how busy and productive we are. Why are these terms the gold standard of our value, and what if we measured our productivity and success in other ways – say by the quality of our relationships, our communities, our quality of life, our health, and our personal growth? Think about how this reframe would shift our thinking, and impact our quality of life.

Stop_Take_a_BreakWe tend to feel guilty or lazy when we’re not busy, in the traditional sense of the word, as if our worth and value as a productive member of society is dependent on just how much we “get done.” What’s missing in this busy paradox is balance. Our bodies and minds are not designed to be “busy” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When we’re constantly going, going, going, our mental and emotional health may suffer. A hectic schedule with no time to rest and recharge can cause some people to become depressed, anxious, and have trouble sleeping. Busyness can take a toll on our physical well-being also, and we can develop serious health problems, like high blood pressure and heart disease.

The fact is, it’s OK to not be busy! Our bodies can only handle so much, and we only have so much energy to give. That’s why downtime is essential to well-being. Downtime is different from sleep, and it’s also not just sitting in front of the TV or computer. Downtime is taking even 10 minutes for deep breathing, writing in your journal, listening to music, spending time in nature, or whatever else brings you joy and fulfillment. For some people, baking is relaxing. Find whatever it is that brings you joy and peace, and make it a priority.

“But I don’t have time for downtime!” you might be saying. Well that’s all the more reason for it! We make time for what we think is important. Downtime doesn’t have to mean alone time. You can involve friends and family in an activity you find relaxing and enjoyable. You’ll be spending quality time with them while teaching them the importance of downtime and self-care.

Ways to help you get your downtime:Rest_music

  • During lunch hours or after work, take 15 minutes to recharge, either with deep breathing, reading, or going for a walk. 
  • Take regular breaks for self-care, or make it a family event, where everyone turns off all technology for a given amount of time.
  • Make resting a priority, and as important as eating and sleeping.
  • Remember that resting gives you more strength!

How do you get your downtime? Please post your ideas in the comment section below!

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Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator

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