Let’s make no bones about it – life is pretty hectic. There are so, so, SO many things to fit into your 7 day week and with the UK being one of the busiest countries in Europe, with one of the longest average working days, our jobs don’t make it easy for us to find time for all those extra chores, friends, families and hobbies which make life what it is. And thus, finding time to relax all too often takes a back seat to either work, household tasks, socialising, or a combination of all three. The concept of downtime becomes almost laughable; something unattainable. A recent article in Women’s Health made the sad but depressingly true point that social media has turned downtime on it’s head; ‘…ironically, activities which we traditionally chose as ways to relax – baking, yoga, reading – have become bragging opportunities…’ – who is guilty of Instagramming their cupcakes or downward dog? Guilty :(
As we whizz from our desk to the pub to the gym to our parents’ house, the palpable feeling of stress may elude us but guess what folks – to relax is as essential to life as eating or sleeping. Without proper rest – and I don’t just mean whilst you’re asleep – blood pressure can increase, as can levels of fatigue, muscle tension and anxiety.
As a PT I advise you to take ‘rest days’ so your muscles can regenerate – exactly the same goes for the rest of your body and your brain. And the benefits aren’t just physical – taking to time to rest gives us time to consider our emotional wellbeing, readdress any issues and reset ourselves for the next few hours or days.
Of course everyone will tailor downtime to make it suit them, but as I mentioned above, it’s important to take steps to ensure your downtime is 100% relaxed and that no element of it is for show. Think about what truly, really, honestly makes you chilled out – it might help to compare it to what you do for work or with the majority of your time. For example. I spend a lot of my time outside, on my feet, in the company of others. I exercise almost every day and focus on a healthy diet. So until I can find my way to a far away secluded beach with cocktails on tap, I’m at my absolute most relaxed on my own, on the sofa, surrounded by sugary treats. Make it your resolution for this weekend – find out what it is that truly calms you, and find the time, even a little time, to make it happen.