An Overachiever’s Guide To Making The Most Of Your Downtime

I am not very familiar with the concept of doing nothing. In fact, I am the type of person that goes into a downward spiral of despair when I am not constantly kicking my personal goals. I freak out. I worry that I am letting myself down. My humans down. And, well, I get a rash and a whole bunch of ulcers. Gross and highly unsexy, I know. But stress manifests in all types of funny ways.

Every year of my life up until 2016 was batshit fucking wild — I genuinely cannot pinpoint a year that I was like “oh yeah, that was chill.” So for me, 2017 and 2018 have been real times of adjustment for me, and slowly but surely, I am having to learn that free time is a good thing. In fact, free time is a thing that we should all cherish, not fear. Fun fact: in 2017, I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder (part of the fun package that is my clinical depression), and it was the year that things finally settled down and I started to enjoy a “normal” life. To me, that is a classic-Carly example of how much I thrive on being stupidly busy and how much my brain shits itself when things calm down.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I know I am not the only one that kicks themselves for enjoying some “downtime,” and I think that we overachieving-busy-bees need to learn a thing or two about calming the eff down!

1. Do something where your happiness is the sole beneficiary

A lot of women are multi-tasking queens! So when we have a free second, our brain opens up our mental to-do list and encourages us to get to work. But instead of reading a book that will educate you further in the stock market, reread Twilight. Will Twilight help your investment portfolio? Hell-to-the-no. But it will help you re-spark your pubescent love for vampires. Not every minute of your day has to be spent purposefully.

2. Schedule time in your week for NOTHING

This was a piece of advice that I gave my friend, and as I said it to her I was like, “Holy lord, I am a genius.” I am very fortunate to be surrounded by some incredible humans, but they all have this horrible habit — they see a “blank” in their calendar and think that it has to be filled. Fight the temptation to plan something, and instead routinely block out time titled “Sweet F*** All.” You will thank me later, like my friend did. She now has time and energy for impromptu movie nights and random hormonal cries — two things she previously could not fit in her wildly busy schedule. If your schedule is so busy that you cannot allow yourself a period-cry, you are doing yourself a massive disservice!

3. Write this quote down, I say it out loud at least once a week.

My beautiful Nanny once said to me:

Learn to enjoy spending time by yourself, in the end, that’s all you have.

Now, while that might sound like a morbid thing to say, it is also kind of beautiful. You cannot spend every waking second with other people, and sadly, relationships can end. Do yourself a favor and learn to love alone time.

4. Give yourself permission to sit and do absolutely NOTHING

As much as I wish I could meditate, I just have not dedicated the time or willpower to learn how to. But I am slowly allowing myself time to just sit. And when I say just sit, I literally mean just…sit. Don’t fiddle with your phone, don’t pet your cat, don’t think about what you are doing next, and certainly don’t look around at the chores that you could be doing (undusted skirting boards, you can just bloody well wait). Just sit and go wherever your thoughts take you. Sometimes your thoughts will be random or non-important (like noticing the sound the leaves make in the wind), other times your thoughts will open up the opportunity to be grateful, and other times your mind will take you to sad or angering places. Whatever place your mind takes you, sit with those thoughts. But why?

Random thoughts reduce your stress levels, allow you to observe things you would usually be too busy to notice, and ground you in the very moment. Positive thoughts increase your awareness of the good things in life, making you a more grateful and content person. Negative thoughts allow you to acknowledge and mentally sort through the shit stuff in life. Believe me, as someone who is notorious for pushing all negative feelings down — they will come back continuously, they will take a toll on your body (remember the rash and ulcers), and they will come back in a bigger and scarier wave later. Tackle these small and manageable thoughts as they come, because trust me, it is far easier.

5. Encourage your other crazy-ass friends to get off the train at “Relaxation Station”

We are all in this rat-race to out-busy each other, but all that leads to is unhappiness, burn out, and discontentment. Let’s stop creating a Hunger Games-like environment where we are fighting each other to the death to see who can be the busiest. Instead, let’s reward those in our social circles that prioritize self-care and schedule in “Do Fuck All” days. Those guys are the real winners in life!

Added bonus: if your friends are taking care of themselves and allowing themselves to slow down, you feel socially allowed to do the same. It is bullshit — you are allowed to relax without the permission of your friends — but the social-certification allows your brain to chill out.

*****

Okay, that’s all. I am going to go lie on the couch and binge on Narcos. Don’t judge my laziness — join me!

Carly is a four-eyed, caffeine-addicted and severely-clumsy girl living down under in Australia. She regularly publishes rants, braindumps and even some tricks to survive life on her blog, The Chronicles of Carly, and on her Instagram, @thechroniclesofcarly.

Image via Unsplash

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