When was the last time you set aside time for yourself to relax or do something you love?
Chances are, like many other people, you’d say that it’s been too long since you’ve spent time by yourself to relax and recharge. The fact is, life can be really stressful and finding the time to take a break from it all and recharge can seem like the impossible. Work, family, and relationships are always demanding your time whether you are working late on a big project, taking care of little children, or caring for a loved one. Sometimes, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. We’ve all had those days where we are so stressed that we feel like we are just going through the motions.
But that isn’t a sustainable way to live. You can’t run on an empty tank in the long run. The effects of stress will build and can start of have a negative effect on your health and relationships. Common signs of stress according to the Mayo Clinic include fatigue, headache, muscle tension, anxiety, anger, feeling overwhelmed, social isolation, and sadness or depression. Running on fumes and ignoring your own needs will only wind up having a negative impact on your life.
So how do you prevent the demands and stresses of your life from impacting your health and relationships? The answer is setting aside time to have all to yourself free from the notifications constantly coming from your phone, your emails, and your to-do list. It allows you time to reflect on your day, emotionally and physically recharge, and can help reduce the effects of stress on your life and relationships. Spending time alone to recharge looks different for each person but the key is to spending time doing activities that you enjoy and help you feel rejuvenated. That means that activities like lying on the couch and scrolling though your phone or binge-watching your favorite TV show might not be the best way to spend your downtime. Instead, consider these other ways to recharge.
There are several research-backed ways you could spend your downtime to help you recharge.
Journaling is one way to spend some quiet time alone. The great thing about journaling is that you can spend as little or as long as you’d like writing. Just find a quiet spot whether that’s at home or at your local coffee shop and write about whatever is on your mind. You can also keep a gratitude journal. Simply write down what you are grateful for that day in your journal. What you are grateful for can range from big things like the health of a family member or friend or small things like a hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning. The point of a gratitude journal is to reflect on the good things happening in your life. Researchers even found that people who keep a gratitude journal are more likely to feel better about their lives, exercise more, and visit their doctor less.
Try spending time in nature. Go for a walk, bike, or run on your favorite trails. Soak up the sounds of the birds chirping, the gentle breeze, and the smells of the flowers and trees. Research has even found that spending time in nature can boost your immune system, reduce stress, improve your mood, and can help you focus better. Even if it’s a busy day for you, a quick 15-minute walk around the block can work wonders when it comes to clearing your mind and reducing stress.
There are so many other ways you can spend your downtime. You could call a friend to catch up or catch up in person on a coffee date, write a letter, paint, draw, color (adult coloring books are a great stress reducer), or even try out a delicious recipe you’ve been thinking about. As long as you are engaging in activities that you enjoy and leave you feeling refreshed, you are spending your downtime well. That’s the whole point of setting aside time for yourself: taking a break from the busyness and stress of your day to relax and recharge.
Scheduling downtime in your day is incredibly important but there are many roadblocks that can make it hard to practice. Having a busy schedule is one reason why it’s difficult to schedule downtime. Some people find it helpful to schedule time in their day for downtime and that way, if it’s on their calendar, they can make sure it happens. Others find it helpful, especially moms, to get up a half hour or hour early before the rest of your family gets up to spend some time by yourself. It is possible to find a half hour each day to spend by yourself. Sometimes, you just have to be creative! But, it is so important to your well-being that it’s worth the effort of making it happen. And remember, that spending time on your own isn’t being selfish. Yes, it might be hard to spend some time away from your family but not only will you feel better but you will also find that you are a less-stressed version of yourself with spending time with others. It’s a win-win situation!
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