Can You Enjoy Your Downtime?

living purposefully self-care

So, can you enjoy your downtime?

If your first response was, “What downtime?” scootch a little closer, friend.

Downtime is natural. We need to rest. We need to regroup. We need to pause and consider before running willy-nilly into the next thing.

We have natural rhythms that oscillate between high and low activity periods. The more we learn to honor and flow with our rhythms the happier (and more effective) we’ll be.

Most of my clients are hard-drivers. They’re doctors, forest managers, US Senators, management consultants, tech execs, product managers, intuitives, life coaches, agency owners, full-time parents, outdoor guides, and folks that have left the workforce behind but haven’t yet figured out how to leave the grind.

What I’m trying to say is that the hard-driving isn’t about the job, it’s about us.

When my hard-driving clients are presented with any downtime — whether it be a lull in their business or even a vacation — they freak out. Pleasurable/planned dips can be as triggering as unplanned/unpleasurable ones.

We come by our hard-driving honestly. It comes from a deep place.

In my case, I had to grow up quickly as a late teenager, which kicked my survival mode into overdrive. I’ve been on the run since approximately 1987. I get that deep-seated survival need to keep going.

When I explore this phenomenon with my clients, we touch on their deep places: cultural influences, the messages they received growing up, or being flat-out told they weren’t good enough or doing it right. Most of us have grown up in a hyper-capitalistic culture that measures and values human productivity above nearly all else – except profits.

That’s a lot.

Our patterns of doing and being are deeply engrained, and why they often don’t shift by just finding a better thought. As much as we fight it, what we’re being asked to do is lean into that dip.

Here’s how I’ve helped myself and my clients lean into the dips:

  • Name it: This is a simple, powerful tool. Naming what’s happening is like orienting yourself on the map of you. “Oh, I’m experiencing downtime. That tends to freak me out. When I freak out, I run around trying to stay productive instead of relaxing and resting.”
  • Give yourself a scoop of kindness: My go-to move is to tell myself my thoughts and behavior make sense. Because they do. I’ll say, “It totally makes sense that I freak out when there’s a dip. I don’t need to beat myself up for that. It happens to lots of people. I can find a new way.”
  • Breathe/Get in your body: Put your hand on your chest, feel your feet on the floor, and as you breathe in, say to yourself “breathing in” and as you breathe out, say to yourself, “breathing out.” I’m not an expert in somatic stuff, but we can all find those little ways to get back in our bodies. They don't have to be fancy.
  • Give yourself some respite: It’s likely everything in you will be telling you that you need to get out of this downtime immediately. Or if you’re on vacation, your mind will leap from thing to thing to thing that you should be doing or worrying about. These are called intrusive thoughts.

    I’m not saying that there’s not an actual problem to be solved, but I am asking you to give yourself some respite from it all. The intrusive thoughts aren’t going to get you where you want to go. Their entire job is to keep you running in circles.
    When you truly allow yourself some respite, new ideas come.

Give yourself as much respite as you can. Then give yourself a little more.

The biggest fallacy our hard-driving minds tell us is that there will be peace when all the stuff is done. The truth is, when we can let go, peace is right there. Waiting for us.

Your fellow recovering hard-driver,

I help people get clarity and create momentum in their lives. Whether it's their work-life, relationships, life stage, or building their business, people usually come to me because they're at a crossroads and are unsure how to proceed.

If you're reading this and leaning in, let's chat.

Just grab me for a free 30-minute consult. No pressure, promise.