“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice.

It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it, we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” – Tim Kreider in the New York Times

Study after study demonstrates that not only does downtime feel good, it’s necessary for our minds to be as creative and efficient as possible.

To achieve our highest levels of performance, replenish our attention, stay motivated, solidify memories, and encourage creativity—in short, to strike the proper work-life balance—we need to recognize the importance of rest.

Without scheduled downtime, we may think that we’re getting a whole lot done.  But, in the long run, the truth is that rest is necessary if we want to be truly effective at work and in life.

If we are always going and focused solely on our work, we can begin to lose energy and passion for the work we do.  When we’re stressed, our vision can become clouded, and it can be more challenging for us to see all of the important details in front of us.  In whatever line of work we do, we are our most valuable asset, and if we’re not doing well, it will show.

Rest not only improves the quality of our work, but it is also a necessary component of a high-quality life. We will only live this life once, and we deserve to live our lives to their fullest, with time for pleasure, connection, and joy.

As you create your monthly and weekly schedules, make sure that you are devoting time to eat, sleep, relax, be with loved ones, and have fun! If that seems nearly impossible, try implementing the steps below. Rest is so important that even a little bit will rejuvenate you. Start small, and soon you’ll find yourself wanting to schedule even more downtime. Here are some ideas to help you:

  • Even in the midst of intense work, take small breaks.  A fifteen-minute walk, ten deep breaths, or going to bed a half-hour early can not only make the tasks at hand more pleasant, but they can also make your brain more effective.
  • Think of rest like a pressure release valve.  Similar to letting the steam out of a kettle, scheduled downtime of one to five minutes throughout your day can help you release tension and reorient yourself.  You can stretch for five minutes, take several deep breaths, or light a candle.
  • Schedule longer Sabbath Moments in your week or month with quiet time to study, pray, meditate, and recharge.
  • Grab your journal and reflect on these five life coaching questions.
  • Know that your self-care may not look like someone else’s self-care.  You may need to go for a run to clear your mind, or you may want to cuddle in bed with a good book.  You may need time for solitude, or you may want to make dinner with friends.  Remember that there’s no one right way to rest and relax or to take your scheduled downtime. What matters is that you take the time to nourish and replenish yourself.
  • Sometimes, I hear people say that they fear that if they take scheduled downtime, they will never want to come back to their work and normal lives again.  If you’ve been going, going, going for months or years with no attention to your own needs, then it makes sense that your body and mind are begging you to move to the opposite side of the pendulum for a moment.  By mustering the courage and taking the steps to honor your need for non-action, you will allow yourself to rebalance your energy and create internal space for your desires and goals to come back into focus.

Are you too busy to rest? Is your work-life balance not balanced?

Consider applying for a free Discovery Session with me today—we’ll clarify your next steps in getting to a life that fulfills and sustains you, complete with scheduled downtime!

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