In order to have up time, we must have proper downtime. We need more than sleep, we need rest away from computer and phone screens. We require quiet time to read, reflect, think. We need time to zone out, and replenish our mental energy.
The brain craves time to regenerate, to clear itself of cognitive congestion. This world has become a constant stream of mental input, and we must protect ourselves so we’re not overwhelmed – especially if we suffer from stress and anxiety.
We all know that we are useless without a reasonable amount of sleep. However, we also become a bit incapacitated if we have not had proper metal downtime for a while.
Mental rest is as important as physical rest. After a long run or hard workout, we take the next day off to recuperate. But what about our mental workouts? We are constantly staring into our phones, reading on screens all day, playing video games, flipping channels. Our brains are often working at full capacity during our entire waking hours, with little to no mental break to recharge.
If we would like our mind to be able to run full blast, we also have to practice letting it idle in a lower gear. Taking mental breaks throughout the day will enable us to redline them occasionally when we need to. Why do we feel we need to be so speedy all of the time? Hit the brakes.
It’s a great time to ponder problems, and think about things that happened throughout the day, but it’s also a great chance to completely recalibrate.
Try going for a walk and doing nothing but observe what is around you. Really look at your neighbour’s garden. Check out the trees in the park. Count blue cars. Think of it as it moving meditation where your only mental mechanics are visual examination. Reducing your mental capacity to observation instead of processing changes the system for a bit, enabling you to rest part of the brain.
We read things online all day long, but there’s a huge difference in mental operation from skimming articles and memes or getting lost in a real book. Immersing yourself in the story is like going on vacation. You are visualising the plot and letting the story wash over you, but you’re not doing the work.
Reading an actual paper book for half an hour before bed is a wonderful way to unwind and let the brain relax before sleep.
My grandmother used to say, “A change is as good as a rest”. Even if you’re just going to the kitchen to make more tea, take your time. Be away from the computer for at least five minutes. When you get back to your work, you’ll be a bit more clear minded.
Google “Simple Stretching” and you’ll find many suggestions to inspire you. Any old stretch will do – just loosen anything that feels tight, and stretch out the whole body. Relaxing the muscles also relaxes the nervous system; the physical and mental are always connected. Two minutes spent stretching morning and evening can increase circulation and connect your mind and body.
We often use transit time to read or play games, but what about doing nothing? When is the last time you stared into space for twenty minutes? If you’re into formal meditation, great. If it’s not your thing, just take a few minutes to breathe. Blank your mind. Think nothing. Be nothing but breath.
It is worth taking a look at the quality of your sleep. This is the foundation of our mental rest. Without it, we’d quickly be zombies. Instead of getting “enough” sleep, what might happen if you went to bed twenty minutes earlier for a week? Would a white noise app help camouflage a loud household? Is your room too hot or too cold?
Don’t forget the foundation of good sleep. How old is your pillow and mattress? Should you ask for new sheets or blankets for Christmas? Be sure that you’re getting the best rest possible during your sleep time.
Releasing our cerebral tension allows us to counteract our constant busyness, and increase our mental energy. Don’t accept exhaustion as your natural state – clear your mind and recharge. With more downtime, our uptime will be stronger and clearer.
What are your tricks to recharge your mind? Comment!
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