I don't know about you, but I don't want 2015 to be as packed and crazy as 2014 was. My goal is to make each year less insane than the one before it. I want to make each new year more spacious and mindful, and I want to actually learn from my over-scheduling snafus from the previous year, and put those lessons to use.
So, I've been thinking a lot about scheduling downtime: I know it seems ridiculous, but I think it's a must for on-the-go people who won't make it happen otherwise.
Ben always says that if you have to schedule your relaxation, something has gone wrong, but for me--someone who feels better when living by a schedule (OCD?)--scheduling downtime is a way to ensure that it actually occurs. It allows me to relax without feeling guilty about what I should be doing during that time.
If this mentality sounds foreign to you, and you actually do feel like you have an adequate amount of downtime in your life, then yay and hooray and you're on the right track! Congrats! You can stop reading now.
But if you, too, want to find more time for relaxation in your life, here are 10 Ways to Schedule Your Downtime in 2015: Big Picture to Small.
[Note: All of these ideas involve the same first step--pulling out your calendar and looking at it with a critical eye. When you find a time period/date that works for the activity listed below, then SCHEDULE IT LIKE YOU WOULD SCHEDULE A VERY IMPORTANT WORK EVENT. This part is crucial.]
- Take a REAL LIFE vacation. Rx: At least 1X per year.
I know some people who haven't taken a real vacation in years. Like, years. This isn't acceptable. I know that it can be hard if you own your own business, or if you're limited financially, but it's really important for your health to get away from all of your responsibilities and just be at least once per calendar year. If finances are an issue, maybe you save up a bit each month and take a cheap vacation at the end of the year, or you find someone you know who has a place you can stay, or you do some sort of house trade (you can get creative with this!), but you've gotta make it happen. You will be a better, more productive, more fulfilled person for it, I promise.
- Schedule a short weekend getaway. Rx: At least 1-2X per year.
This is do-able! Just a weekend away, and again, you can do it on the cheap if you need to--go camping, stay at someone else's house, rent a cheap motel room or cabin in a nearby town. You can make this an adventurous getaway or one where you just sleep and eat all weekend, it's up to you. But again, the key factor is getting away from all of your "to-do" triggers for a full weekend.
- Book yourself a weekend-long staycation. Rx: At least 2-3X per year.
No financial excuses for this one--everyone can do this without much planning. Just look at your calendar for February + March [RIGHT NOW], find a weekend when you have nothing going on, and block it out with a big X and write "STAYCATION." Then, don't schedule anything on that weekend. If someone tries to schedule something say, "I can't do that weekend, I'm out of town," and don't even bat an eye, because for all intensive purposes, you are. Then, when you actually take your staycation, don't do anything you don't want to do, don't tell anyone you're around, and stay off of social media. Even better, turn off your phone. And then relax.
- Schedule a "self-care day." Rx: At least 1X per month.
Again, this can be scaled depending on your financial situation. Basically, this just means a day to take care of yourself and your health. It may involve scheduling a complete spa day somewhere totally luxurious, or it may mean getting a massage, then taking an Epsom salt bath, then painting your own toenails or taking a nap, or both. It's a day when you do the things you need to do in order to feel like you're taking care of yourself and your body.
- Schedule a "nature day." Rx: At least 1X per month.
Is this one new to you? Well, it shouldn't be, because we all need to get outside and spend some time in nature in order to feel healthier and happier. Fresh air, sunshine, and the beauty of the natural world do wonders for your emotional and energetic states of being. Go on a hike, go to a park, go to the beach (if you can), take a picnic to a nearby lake, take a long bike ride on a country road an hour or so outside of the city--whatever! Just get outside.
- Book a purely fun social event with friends. Rx: At least 1X per month.
This may sound ridiculous to those of you who always make time for social events (and if so, that's fabulous!), but if your social life often gets pushed aside for family time or work or errands or whatever, you're missing out on a very important part of life that your soul needs. You will feel more relaxed after dinner or a tea date with a friend. Going on a walk with a friend is a great way to get outside, get social, and get some exercise--it's one of my faves ways to be social these days ;)
- Give yourself the gift of 1 night COMPLETELY off (at home). Rx: At least 1X per week.
Again, this might sound silly, but if you read this and think, Hmmmm, when was the last time I did that?, then this one is for you. And this doesn't mean sitting down on the couch at 9pm for a 30-min veg session, this means turning off around 6pm, ordering dinner in, not doing dishes, and watching a movie (with the kids, partner, dog, or just yourself!)--or reading a magazine or taking a bath. Don't do any work or planning for the next day, either!
- Figure out a simple, free activity that triggers your relaxation response (bath, glass of wine on the couch, reading a book in bed, etc.) and then factor in time for this activity during your normal week. Rx: At least 1X per week.
This one = straightforward. Figure out what relaxes you at home and then DO IT! Write it in your calendar if you have to. Example of what you would write: "Thursday, 5-6pm: Read on couch." Mind-blowing, I know!
- Take a midday break. Rx: At least 1X per day.
I've told you about the wonders of taking a midday break before, but I really can't emphasize it enough. Go on a 10 minute walk, go to a noon yoga class, step outside and sit on a bench and breathe, have a cup of tea, whatever makes you feel like you're "off" for a few minutes. Pick a time when you're almost always free, or figure out a different time for each day of the week, get it on your calendar each day, and do it. It will make a big difference in how busy you feel.
- Stop what you're doing and take 3 deep breaths. Rx: 1X every hour.
If this is hard for you to do, set an alarm on your phone or download one of the many apps that remind you to stop and take a minute. You CAN do this one. Easiest of all so no excuses. You will become more mindful, present, and stress-free, and that's a guarantee ;)
So there you go! If this list overwhelms you, then pick a time over the next week or so when you can sit down, really look at your calendar, and do some big-picture downtime + relaxation planning for 2015.
It's just as important as the business planning or class planning or life planning that you might do each week, month, or year. I'd even argue that it's almost more important than these things!
...And now I'll get off of my crazy planning soapbox ;) Hope you can find a few minutes of downtime today!