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The Importance of Downtime

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So often we say we want more time and it's really the relaxation we're after. We have hobbies, of course. Depending on your stage of life, financial situation, surrounding climate and so on, these hobbies can be anything from knitting to extreme water skiing.

Aside from all the running around we do to stay alive in this economy, we then run ourselves ragged completing our "must do" hobbies and while these may be more fulfilling than anything else, we also must remember to have some absolute downtime. Americans in particular seem to be at odds with total relaxation.

Perhaps it's our Puritan roots or the fact that so many of us have trouble knowing when to lay down and then when exactly to get back up again. But really, if we would only take a little time to do absolutely nothing, to be still, to not make plans even if they're plans to have the best time ever, we might actually be able to regain that center, find some energy, recall ourselves.

It's a running joke to say you need a vacation from your vacation. Why do we do this to ourselves? We are so competitive when it comes to work, career, money, children, property, achievement. Must we compete during our off time as well? We brag and show off about miles walked or biked on the weekend, homes painted or lawns mowed; and it's nice to discuss it but must we continue the competition? Can we not kick back for even a day, take the cell phone off of the proverbial hook, think of nothing but our breathing and our loved ones, eat nice meals, sleep ... the importance of downtime is that it allows you to have an internal cave. You can retreat to this cave and the dark, peaceful quietness of it, and emerge stronger, more able to take on the challenges of life, and perhaps even with a new idea for an actively engaging hobby! But if you never allow yourself the opportunity to crawl inside that dark, quiet shell, chances are you'll be so exhausted you'll need not only a vacation from your vacation, but a vacation from your life most days, too.

It shouldn't be embarrassing to do nothing sometimes. Having an evening or a morning, an afternoon or a whole day of nothing is not the same as ignoring your responsibilities or having no interests. Put the Puritans in the place and be still, center yourself, and then get out there, gosh darn it and make something of yourself.

Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER.

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.