Wednesday, October 26, 2016

5 reasons why you NEED downtime

Mom2MomEd Blog: 5 reasons why you need downtime
I'm an expert multi-tasker, over volunteerer (is that a word?), perpetual burning-both-ends-of-the-candle person, and chronic I-need-to-reset-my-lifer.

I am on a 60 day cycle. I can go and go and go for about 60 days, and then I crash. 

It happens again and again, almost like clockwork. I start out strong, and then over the course of those 60 days I begin to waver slowly until it's time to crash and then start all over again. I've always heard people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Does that mean I'm insane? Likely.

Today is day 1 of a crash. The last 60 days have led to me sitting with my daughter on the couch at 9:30am and eating popcorn and gummy bears while chugging coffee and apple juice. 

It's less important to share what I've been doing these past 60 days and more important to share why it's perfectly OK to plop down on that couch and give yourself a break once in a while. 

(I'd suggest for your own mental health you do it a little more often than every 60 days.)

I'm also going to just float this out there--self care is not my thing. I preach it and I love it when I do it, but I'm just not very good at making self care a priority in my life. I can't really give a lot of good advice on self care practices, although I blogged a few of my favorites HERE, but I can give you some reasons as to why it's important to create some down time or space in your life.

Here's my take:

1. You can't pour from an empty cup.
You may think you are Superwoman (and I bet that you actually are), but the truth is that you are useless to your family and to yourself if you are so run down that you get sick. Did you know that being too busy can actually slowly deplete your immune system? When you are crazy busy and not taking care of yourself, you are likely experiencing more stress than you realized, not sleeping well, and note eating as healthily as you should be. All of this means you are more likely to end up getting sick which in turn means you are less productive. 

2. You'll be more productive in the long run.
It's true! Taking time for yourself to unwind, decompress, and unplug is important for long-term productivity. You can't go and go and go non-stop and expect to be an effective but run-down, exhausted, zombie mom (or mombie). It's just not going to happen. So, you need to take breaks from life now and then. You don't have to devote an entire day to unwinding, but you do need to step away and veg out for a few minutes here and there. That looks different for everyone, and I'm not one to say you need to entirely unplug to decompress. I find it relaxing to look through Facebook on my phone or to read an article I've been saving. The key is just to do SOMETHING for yourself.

3. It affects your mood.
Seriously, this one is huge for me! I get really--dare I say it--bitchy when I don't have any time for myself. I'm one of those people that has a really big bubble and I need life to stay out of it. That just isn't possible with two kids who are attached to me like Velcro, a husband, and a 150-pound lap dog (seriously). I need physical space as much as I need mental space. I can feel it building up when I haven't had enough physical freedom. Some things that are good for giving me space when I don't have much time are: 
  • going for a quick walk around the block
  • running out for a coffee ALONE
  • taking a shower
  • doing some yard work
  • or the old tried-and-true man trick...pretending to take a poop! I kid you not--this must be universal!

4. You need space to reflect on what's working and what needs to give.
Often, just putting some space between you and life lets you figure out what you really value and if you need to shift your focus. I get really one-track minded and it's hard for me to see outside of my to-do list. If I break the cycle and change my focus, I can sometimes completely eliminate entire tasks. I write down things when they are important to me, but that level of importance changes after a while--things can be crossed off the list or they can wait. I can't tell you how many times I've listed things as a priority only to later have forgotten about them or to have them lose their luster.

5. You deserve it, damn it!
Seriously...we work so darned hard for this life and we certainly want and deserve time to enjoy it! All work and all play equals absolutely no fun. You've got to make yourself a priority. I'm not one to give myself a spa day or to do my hair and makeup, but I do love to light a candle and read while drinking coffee. Or, I enjoy tinkering in my garden and rearranging my flower pots. Whatever it is that gets your gears turning, do it! I am horrible at this one in particular. This is the big goal that I'm working on. I have always felt that taking time for myself was taking time away from my kids. Instead, I have come to realize that it's actually the exact opposite. I realized that I was sending mixed messages to my kids about my own self-worth and that my own needs aren't important. These are not things I want them to think about themselves or their spouses when they get older. 

There you have it!

Five big reasons why you NEED some downtime in your life! Everyone has their own reasons, but hopefully this list will reinforce for you how important personal time and space are to your health and to enjoying your life. 

What are your favorite ways to unwind and enjoy life more?
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