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April 2017

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A friend and I were talking today about pressure, especially the pressure to be constantly busy, doing, achieving. As a human being I need rest, and as a writer I need a certain amount of downtime for the creative gears to turn. But we've been trained to view rest and downtime as laziness, procrastination, wasting time.

There has to be a middle ground between wasting time and burnout. I happen to believe that much of what we call "goofing off" is actually necessary rest and recreation. We haven't been taught to value this downtime; we're encouraged to be workaholics. We keep doing studies that show that we need more sleep, but we keep structuring our society to give ourselves less sleep. We schedule ourselves from morning to night. If we sneak in breaks, we feel horribly guilty over what we "might have done" with that time.

But we're not robots, and there is more to life than producing output 24/7.

It's okay--even essential--to take a break now and then.


Agreed. I'm in a privileged position of being able to more or less make my own schedule, and I still balk at some of the things I have to adjust to because they're "normal": early mornings, late nights, winter holiday socializing. Mix any two of these together for more than a few days and I become physically ill. I've gotten past much of the guilt, though, by realizing that making myself sick to meet expectations which are, for me at least, unreasonable is absurd. Of course that doesn't help me deal with the conflict of knowing that for any given thing I'm doing there are one or two others happening at the same time or close to that I would like to be able to do too, and that the number of things I choose to do in a day is lower than I feel like the "average" or "normal" person fits in on a given day. That's where I tend to beat myself up and think I "should" be doing more -- when I want to do more but can't reasonably fit it in to the amount of time and energy available to me. I need lots of breaks, downtime, quiet time, whatever you want to call it.

And I worry about a society that measures itself by how busy it is, how much money it makes, how many things it consumes, and misses the measures of joy, peace, contentment.
It took me a while to accept that, while I'm holding a day job, I can only do one outside event per week (once in a great while, I'll do two). If I push it more than that, I invariably end up sick. But our own pace is our own pace.

I have the same worry re the priority given the quantitative over the qualitative!
No surprise that we are in complete agreement. This constant need to produce, to do, to keep busy--ugh! I just don't get it. I really don't.

I want to have a full life. But I want to get to enjoy it, too.
Very important to find that balance and learn to value relaxation. For a while I felt so pressured (aka guilty) about earning next to nothing in dollars, that I stopped allowing myself to read the sorts of books I actually enjoy. Eventually my creative flow slowed to the proverbial trickle. Poor choice.

I'm reading again and feeling more open to ideas and able to create. Still traveling the road to full recovery, but I can see it glimmering ahead.
Oh, yeah--that feeling that we have to "earn" the privilege of doing things that are, in fact, essential parts of nurturing ourselves. Good for you for letting the nourishment back in!
I agree! I have found that I enjoy the slower pace of life. I have less stress that way and I'm not as tired. A couple of days of late nights and early mornings is a bad thing!
I love that userpic! ;-D
Thank you! It was made by toocuteicons
Agreed. And thank you for this reminder. I no longer feel guilty about the 2 hours I've spent practicing the ukulele. You are wise, J.
You play that ukulele, darlin'! :-)


I couldn't agree with you more emphatically! When I was in graduate school becoming a therapist, every single professor - and I mean EVERY single professor, in EVERY class (even things like Diversity or Statistics) - talked to us at least once about the cruciality of self-care. And self-care translates to: downtime. Whatever recharges your batteries. Naps. Walks in the park. Reading. Playing videogames. Doodling. Playing with your hedgehog (only wash your hands afterwards, those things carry salmonella).
Me? I like to play solitaire (with actual cards), take walks, drink tea while reading good books, paint my toenails, pet my cat, watch anime, write letters to friends, go out to eat, go online and plan road-trips, and read online comics. Those are my headliners. And I'm not ashamed of a single one, I consider them critical to my well-being, and essential to a happy life. You should, too! Everybody ought to!

Re: Absa-total-lutely!

I applaud you and your sanity! :-)
If only I'd heeded this advice years back! Overdoing things for too long has taken a nasty toll on my health, and has forced me to learn the value of downtime.

You're absolutely right: we NEED to take time out as a part of our everyday life.