The Importance of Downtime When Stressed



Stress is one of the most common mental health issues today. In a life that has become a rat race, being stressed seems to have become the benchmark of productivity. It’s as if we might get left behind if we don’t work hard, long hours. 

The dangers of being stressed all the time. 

We all have the ability to tolerate stress in short bursts. But when stress becomes constant or prolonged, our biological system will slowly set at that stress level until it becomes our normal state of being. And once it has become our way of life, we will cease to recognize it for what it is.

Because we don’t recognise we are under constant stress, it is even more difficult to know we need help. Living a life where chronic stress is the new norm can cause many health problems. 

  • You can develop mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
  • It can affect your mood and take away your focus, make you feel restless, overwhelmed or demotivated.
  • It negatively impacts behaviour like making you feel irritable and prone to angry outbursts. It can also make you overeat or undereat or abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • Chronic stress can take a toll on your body and can lead to serious medical issues like cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems and inflammation.

The first step in helping yourself fight stress is to know when you are.

To recover from stress, the first step is to recognise when you are stressed. Connect the emotional, psychological and physical signs you’re experiencing with the things that are giving you pressure. Analyse what your stressors are. Is it work? Money? Family situation?

Sit down and take time to review your lifestyle. Are you taking on too much work? Can you delegate some of the responsibilities to someone else? Prioritising, planning, organising tasks and other small but practical steps can help improve your situation and lessen your worries. Make sure to set realistic expectations to avoid putting on more pressure to yourself.

Give your mind time to switch off and recover.

While it’s commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost: it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs. ~Jonah Lehrer, Imagine

The mind can perform to its full potential better when we give it time to recharge. To encourage creativity, focus, wellness and optimal performance, we should learn to step back and give ourselves time to process what we have learned during the day.

Schedule your downtime breaks. Companies like 3M and Google have recognised how crucial downtime is to pursue their own projects. Plan your days off and vacations to recover and reinvigorate yourself.

Don’t work through lunchtime. If you can’t get that lengthy break yet, try scheduling small breaks for yourself as much as you can throughout the day. For example, eat lunch when it’s time for lunch. It will keep your energy and concentration levels up throughout the day.

Get short afternoon naps. A 10 to 20 minute power nap can help your mind stay sharp, boost your memory and rejuvenate you when you feel exhausted.

Take a little walk. Help lift your mood and clear your mind by taking a short walk for some exercise and fresh air.

Find things you enjoy doing and do them. It could be reading, playing games or doing something creative, but it could help you unplug for a bit and get that needed break.

Turn off your phone. The overflow of information from the internet and social media and being always connected can be stressful, too. So make sure to turn off your phone from time to time.

Create a routine. Studies have shown that rituals and routines teach/signal your mind when it’s time to start work and when it’s time to stop work. 

We have to work, pay our bills, raise our kids and other responsibilities, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves. So take care of yourself by getting some downtime when you need to.

If you want to know more about stress and what you can do to manage it in healthy ways, visit  Free Course – Simple Tips to Reduce Stress

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Rachel Meadows