Do you struggle to switch off at the end of the day? Are you left with those niggling thoughts telling you that you could have done more? If you are then here are four tips which may help you unwind and enjoy your downtime guilt free.
Downtime starts when you close your laptop for the final time. The end of the day has arrived and it’s time to engage in activities that are low key and enjoyable and most importantly non work-related. What activities would you choose?
The problem of being a perpetual student working from home is that you are constantly having to make your own schedule. There is no nine to five or boss to kick you out of the office, making work seem eternal. You are your own boss with your own deadlines to meet.
For me, I often found it hard to prevent feelings of guilt from creeping into my mind at the end of each day. It wasn’t because I was a workaholic, quite the opposite. Rather, I’d look back ashamedly and spot all the times that I spent procrastinating when I should have been working, sleeping when I should have been awake and daydreaming when I should have been paying attention. When six pm struck, I always felt like I should have done more, making my downtime compromised and guilt-ridden.
Without the proper time to relax and recharge, I began the next day stressed. This made me realise the importance of downtime, as in it enabled my mind to feel well-rested and energised, maximising productivity for the following day.
If you are also finding it hard to switch off, here are four tips that may help you enjoy some quality downtime.
1) Set yourself working hours and stick to them
Most people work roughly eight hours a day. Using this as a template, choose your hours accordingly. If you are a morning person, start earlier and finish earlier. If you are an evening person, start later and finish later. You may even want to stick to the regular nine-to-five. Once you have decided, stick to the hours you have picked as this gets you into a routine and gives you the same amount of downtime every day, letting your mind rest before it tackles the new challenges ahead
2) Unfinished business? Write it down and work on it tomorrow
When the last hour of work is up, stop. The more you push your mental capacities, the more frustrated you will become as you find your concentration inevitably wavers.
Instead, make a note of your loose ends and use them to devise a plan for the next day. As a student, there will most likely never be a point when you have completed all your tasks so you may as well come to terms with this and work on manageable segments.
3) Meditation or mind dump
At the end of the day are you plagued with pestering thoughts like “did I read over my last paragraph?” or “did I reply to my tutor’s email”? If you are then it may be useful to begin your downtime with some meditation or a brain dump.
This can be done with guided meditation apps like headspace or simply taking the time to be by yourself. By having moments of silence where you can focus on breathing and ridding yourself of the noise of the outside world, anxious thoughts in your mind will gradually cease leaving you in a state of calm ready to enjoy some undisturbed downtime.
Let your worries and anxieties escape onto a page like a stream of consciousness.
Writing down meticulously the things that worry you enables you to indulge in a frenzy of rumination, getting it all out of your system but over a time frame that you can control. This prevents your evening from being ruined. I have found the psychological process of doing this has made me feel cleansed from the stresses of the day.
4) Prepare a good night-time routine
Downtime should not be finished with a quick look over tomorrow’s work. Rather it should be finished with the same mindset you had when you started. One ready to relax and recharge with sleep being the last final touch.
Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night so incorporating a good night-time routine at the end of your downtime is essential for a well-rested and recharged brain in the morning. Finding yourself some light reading, having a bath or listening to some relaxing music helps prepare your body for sleep. Switching off all technological devices half an hour before has also been suggested to maximise the quality of sleep, finishing your downtime in the best way possible.
by Catriona Brice
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