The downtime challenge

50 ways to take a break

OK, tell the truth – how much time do you kill every day trolling about online, checking out social media, browsing magazines, watching TV or being distracted by shiny objects? Let’s face it – everyone needs some stress relief and downtime to unwind.  We want to take care of ourselves and our needs by seeking out those things that make us feel good.
The problem comes when those actions are only a short-term fix. They can become addictive and get us sidetracked from our long-term goals and overall wellness.

Recently, one of my awesome clients was looking at how to strike a work-life balance. His taxing and time-consuming job had been getting the best of him and causing a lot of built up stress. He was finding it tough to figure out how to recover from that stress and feel rested and rejuvenated. There just didn’t seem to be enough time in the day.

We took a look at the downtime he’d been taking throughout his entire day and what he was doing during those times.  He knew he was taking breaks in some form – in his case, spending time on social media, perusing the internet and then sometimes feeling kind of paralyzed and exhausted after work.

He felt kind of guilty about doing some of those things, especially the social media stuff, and he believed he was spending too much time there and that it was really unproductive. I reminded him that this may just be the way that he needed to take breaks. The downtime was necessary, and this just happened to be the way he was creating it.

He then had a great realization that what he was doing with respect to his downtime was kind of like always reaching for junk/fast food when he was truly hungry.  It was a great quick fix, but it wasn’t actually nourishing and if kept up long term, would be quite depleting.  It was a great aha! moment!

He realized that he was spending almost two hours a day in these downtime activities. This was great news because it meant he now had two hours that he could transform! We went through his daily schedule and he worked out a new plan that built in time for intentional breaks that would support rather than drain him.  It still included time for reading articles and browsing social media, but those activities would be limited by using tools as simple as setting a timer.

So now I’m going to put this challenge out to all of you. I’m also going to do it, since I think my downtime is a little too junk-food filled! The point of this challenge is to create new strategies to keep you more balanced throughout the day so that you’re never so starved (by stress) that you need to reach for the junk food activities to soothe you.

Here’s the 30 day challenge!

1. For a day or two, notice how you spend your downtime. Take some notes. See how much time you actually spend doing junk-food type things and how you feel afterwards – do you feel relaxed and replenished or drained and anxious?  This is completely subjective; an activity you may find necessary or nourishing to you may be someone else’s junk food.

2. Make a new plan for yourself. Be realistic. This isn’t about setting yourself up for failure or self-recrimination if you don’t follow it! Try some small changes over the next 30 days, and be sure to schedule in SOME time for those activities that give you pleasure even if they are a little bit of junk food. This is about creating balance.

3. Post your proposed changes up on my Facebook page if you’re up for sharing.

4. After 30 days of trying the new routine, post again about your results. Do you feel any different? Was the challenge easy or tough?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

With love,


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