Research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks – ‘downtime’ – increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.
Most working people are preoccupied about their work, tasks, or future to do’s, most of the time they are awake.
Getting enough downtime is even an essential element to maintaining good mental health and ensuring your make the most of you working hours and productivity.
Everyone has different ways of getting ‘downtime’. It doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, it may be chilling with a film, doing some craft, reading, having a nap, going for a run, having a holiday. Any way you manage to shut off from the everyday ‘noise’ and relax.
I find more and more now I suddenly “blow up” – my brain just can’t take any more in and just need quiet, alone time. This morning I’ve had a lovely day with my parents, Geraldine and Jackson. We’ve been for a walk, had a nice lunch and goooed and gaaaaahed at Jackson. It was lovely and I miss it when I can’t do it, but now, I need some time out and probably a nap!
I am in the privileged position that I can take that time out…. do what I want most of the time. I believe it helps me to be more productive, happy and positive.
I know how much my friend Cerian misses her daytime naps now she has two little girls. I know how much Geraldine and Steve miss watching an entire film without interruption. But they do have little people reliant on them, and who give them great joy and maybe that outweighs the joy of a daytime nap!…
I certainly work much better when I manage to achieve regular breaks and downtime. It’s not so much for me about having several weeks off for long holidays, it’s about getting out in the fresh air, exercise, naps, doing stuff I like that’s not work related and chilling with Basil in front of the TV.
Here’s what I think are the key 3 types of downtime:
Sleep – Solid, good quality sleep gives your brain the possibility to revive itself and the body. It’s an opportunity to incorporate everything you’ve experienced during the day. Some people I know say they can do with only a couple of hours of sleep per night, but I’m most productive, creative and happy when I sleep a solid 7-8 hours’ sleep.
Holiday – A longer period (at least three to five days) of being away from work is a great way to reenergise. By being away from your normal routine, you get the chance to look at your life from a different perspective.
Regular breaks – this is both the smallest and the hardest challenge I think for people day-to-day. It’s those little nuggets of emptiness in your head that come from meditation, a walk in nature, doing some sports or just having a few hours quiet after work at the end of your working day. They sound easy enough, as they are relatively short, but the challenge is in the continuity. Our brain needs this type of downtime several times during the day and this helps us process everything we absorb.
So, I am signing off for some downtime….(or naptime!)