Radical Self-Care, Downtime

Launching a new business while working two part time jobs feels a lot like rafting down the rapids without a paddle. The current takes me along for the ride and I do my best to hold on. I just keep doing the task that shows up in front of me and steadily moving forward. There’s really no point in struggling or trying to push the river, as that is just exhausting and rather pointless. I’m reminded of my hero, Louise Hay, saying that she started her now-international publishing company simply by opening the mail and answering the phones. Meaning: do the work at hand.

Well, it just so happens that there’s loads of work at hand! My to-do list keeps growing and yet there are still the same number of hours in each day. Inspiration comes and goes, sometimes at inconvenient times, and interrupts my plans. Yet I’m committed to taking good care of myself; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually so that I may remain healthy and happy and have a full life. It has become apparent that protecting my downtime a necessary step in this discovery process.

I’ve been failing at guarding my personal time. It’s somewhat scarce these days and all the more precious for that. Carving out time for self-care practices each morning and evening has become second nature to me: I have blocked out an entire morning each week for pajama time , I make an effort to connect with my friends, and I’m clear about which hours are reserved for work. The spaces that remain I consider to be recreational: reading a novel, watching Netflix, listening to music, going for a walk, or puttering around my home are some examples of how I fill my personal time.

The challenge lies in that it’s easy to be distracted by another task on my to-do list. One more email, another revision to my website, updating my calendar, folding the laundry are all important items that can interrupt me and before I know it, the small window of opportunity to play has slipped away. I now recognize the importance of having unstructured downtime in my self-care regime, and the need to create boundaries to protect it. So I’m silencing my phone and resisting the urge to check messages or the weather or my schedule or… whatever  when I’m reading or watching a show. I’m learning how to overlook my unmade bed and piles of unopened mail. I’m allowing emails to accumulate until it’s time to clock into business mode.

Basically I’m choosing to focus on the activity that I’m doing in each moment and get every morsel of pleasure that I can out of my brief and priceless downtime. I’m generating awareness that while my work is indeed very important, it is not the only, or even the most important thing. I’m creating a rich and full life for myself that includes balance between work and play and that means unplugging every day, if only for 20 minutes, to enjoy myself and be free. Downtime. It makes uptime more productive!

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