The reality for many people in the 21st century is that life has become chaotic, cluttered and out of control.
Trying to balance our work and family lives with the very basic human need for social interaction – all while maintaining hobbies and fitness regimes – is not an easy task for even the most organised of people. A Scientific American article has termed this ‘cerebral congestion’.
On top of all that, scientific studies have found that it is essential that we spend time focusing on ourselves too, relaxing our bodies and minds – some individualized ‘downtime’.
Unfortunately, having the time to fit all of this into our daily regimes is not easy, but the health benefits – for the mind, body and soul – of having some ‘you time’ are undeniable.
If you can find just ten minutes on a weekday, and a bit more on the weekend, to engage in some of the activities listed below, you can slow down the near-maniacal speed with which your brain races with millions of thoughts every day, which will improve your mood, your sense of calm and your ability to make clear, rational decisions. So try some of the steps for ‘down-timing’ listed below.
In less open-minded times, yoga and meditation were both considered the stuff of hippies. Today, more reflective arts have been welcomed into the lives of everyday people, and if you are yet to experience the benefits of meditation then you will notice an immediate improvement in your psyche as soon as you begin to practice some of the methods prescribed.
Forbes ran an article on how meditation actually changes the construct of the human brain, making us more mindful, focused and attentive, while lessening anxiety, depression and irritability. The great thing about meditation is that ten minutes per day is plenty of time to make significant changes on your life, and you can actually learn more about the art simply with a few searches on Google or YouTube. Thinking yourself happy may sound a strange concept, but the benefits of meditation are proven by science.
One of the chief impacts of a busy life is that the things that we used to love doing are elbowed out of our lives – we simply don’t have time for them anymore. But you will find your mental and physical wellbeing will improve exponentially if you can find even a small window of time to reconnect with lost hobbies.
Whether you’re into arts and crafts, reading, writing fiction or researching non-fiction literature, playing computer games or hitting the gym, your life will be enhanced ten-fold if you can find a way to work your favourite down-timing activities into your schedule.
Gaming and sports are typically aspects that get left behind when people start families or take on a higher-pressured job. But if you want to play your preferred sports these days, clubs tend to be designed around busy lives.
Meanwhile, if you used to love getting involved in gaming or simply watching sports, you no longer have to be tied to your TV screen to do so: streaming services are available to download for your phone or iPad, with sites like Twitch and YouTube Live showcasing some of the best gaming streamers out there. Similarly, these days many people choose to enjoy this hobby via iGaming sites, such as William Hill online casino, which offer live-streamed versions of classic table games that are hosted by real croupiers, in which you can compete against fellow players in real-time.
D is for Delightful… Vitamins
Downtime gives us time to enhance our mental wellbeing, and its principles can also be adopted for our physical health.
A simple walk in the park enables us to embark on a meditative journey of the mind as well as an actual journey of the feet. The fresh air aids our quest for a more contemplative state of mind, while vitamin D – which we pick up when we are outside – can help to lower blood pressure and boost our immune system. This is important because individuals with a low vitamin D count have reported feelings of low mood and consistent fatigue.
You see, there really is no excuse for not taking the kids to play in the park or for not taking the dog for a walk.
The concept of down-timing means different things to different people. If your dream is to simply make time for an afternoon nap, go for it! While difficult in the workplace (management tends to frown on such things), if your schedule allows you to catch an afternoon nap, it has numerous health benefits… and does not mean you are lazy or idle.
More than 85% of species on earth are ‘polyphasic’ sleepers, according to the Sleep Foundation, which means that they take naps throughout the day. Humans are part of the other 15% – ‘monophasic’ sleepers – that simply have one long sleep per night. However, it has never been proven that this is the best for us, with nappers noting improved alertness and focus and enhanced performance – be it in the workplace or in being a better parent, partner and friend.
Napping, along with the other down-timing activities listed above, will improve your physical and mental health. So make sure you allow yourself the luxury of some you time.