6 Simple Steps to Help You Get More Downtime
Help your household understand your need for time out
If you live in a household with other people, it’s important that they give you the time you need to decompress. This can be challenging, especially if you have kids at home.
The key to getting a little space for yourself is to set up rules for your downtime. A “Do not disturb” sign for the door of your bedroom or home office, for example, lets your family know you’re meditating, reading, doing a few yoga asanas, or just listening to music for a few minutes.
Explain to your household members that it’s better for them too when you get to revitalise. After your break, when you’re more refreshed, you can give them your full attention.
Make meals a little luxury
Do you often find yourself eating on the run, in the car or standing over the kitchen counter? Slowing down, even if it’s just for coffee in the morning, can turn even the smallest of meals into more of a pleasure with some built-in downtime for you.
A nice meal starts with an attractive setting. Use a tablecloth or your favourite china. Indulge in some imported coffee or a type of tea you don’t normally get to enjoy. Have a stash of treats for your special breaks.
If mealtime is always chaotic and stressful, take one day a week to plan your menu and prep as much as possible in advance. Then you can sit and relax when it’s time to eat, and you’ll have less to clean up later too.
Multitask when the stakes are low
When it feels like some days just don’t even give you 10 minutes for yourself, you may have to resort to multitasking. To be clear, this isn’t texting on your phone whilst driving or watching YouTube videos when you’re supposed to be working.
Instead, find some periods in your day where you have to get things done but don’t need much concentration, like doing laundry, watering the garden, sweeping the floor, or washing up the dishes. That’s the perfect time to listen to an audiobook or your favourite podcast.
There are also audio tracks that help declutter the mind or give you some motivation when you’re flagging and low on energy. Find what suits you best, knowing it may change from day to day. Grab a pair of headphones, and no one else will know you’re escaping in your head whilst still ticking the boxes on your to-do list.
Create a soothing bedtime routine
If you’re a busy parent or spend time in the early evening taking care of fur babies, think about carving out 30 minutes before bed for your own time. Start with a calming bath or shower, using aromatherapy to help you relax. Lavender and chamomile are ideal for this time of day.
Do some gentle stretching before getting under the covers, and banish all devices with screens until morning. Rather, savour a book or magazine in bed, sipping a cup of herbal tea or warm cocoa.
Use alarms on your mobile to remind you
When you have the world on your shoulders, it’s easy to get to the end of the day and realise you’ve never taken any breaks. You should use your mobile alarm if you fall in this camp.
Alarms are also great if you need a reminder to give yourself enough time for that bedtime ritual described above, which may mean working backwards to ensure the kitchen is tidied up or the kids are asleep. For instance, if you want to be in the tub by 9:30 p.m., you may need to set an alarm for 8:30 or 9 to get started in time.
Is your schedule irregular and varies from day to day? That’s okay — set up your alarms at the start of each day in conjunction with checking your email or some similar task you do routinely.
Set your alarm for one or two times each day when you can snag 15 or 20 minutes for downtime. You might go for a walk, hydrate with a tall glass of cool water, eat a healthy snack, zone out to music, or watch the birds and clouds from your office window. It doesn’t matter so much what you do as that it leaves you feeling better afterwards.
Make your workouts flexible
Exercise is often touted as the best way to incorporate downtime into your day. But if you’re super busy, it may not be as simple as it sounds. That’s why it’s great to have some flexible options in your toolkit, such as:
- Walking during your lunch or coffee break (headphones signal privacy)
- Bicycling to work, to activities, or to run errands
- Doing yoga or mat exercises in the office when you have extra time
- Carrying resistance bands with you for workouts anywhere, including when travelling
You can even put on some music, shut the door, and dance for 10 minutes. It’s guaranteed to get your heart rate up and improve your mood on days when an hour or more just isn’t possible.
Ready to create your own perfect downtime? Make a list of what would help you decompress most, set it up, and start today!