Downtime

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I’m currently reading The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, Sixth Edition from Edmund J. Bourne, PhD, and in the chapter on relaxation I’m up to the part on downtime, which befuddles me a little bit, given my current situation.

The book describes it like this:

Downtime is exactly what it sounds like – time out from work or other responsibilities to give yourself an opportunity to rest and replenish your energy.

The book goes on to recommend that the reader give him or herself one hour of downtime per day, one day of downtime per week, and one week of downtime every twelve to sixteen weeks. Makes perfect sense for someone that’s constantly on the go between work and home responsibilities, on top of trying to maintain a hobby or two and a series of friendships.

But here’s the thing – I’m on disability. I don’t really have any other responsibilities except for my daily checklist, and most of the items on that are things that I have to do daily – monitor my vitals, take medication, eat at regular intervals, that sort of thing. Not only that, two of the items on that checklist are designed to keep me from obsessing over productivity here in the house – leisure and socialization. But eliminating the non-essential, non-downtime oriented items from my checklist only takes five items off the list – reading, learning, writing, my daily list of non-recurring to-do items, and exercise. One of those, learning, I have an ongoing streak of over 200 days that I really don’t want to break, and now that I’m nearing 60 days of getting full marks on my entire checklist I’m really disinclined to take a break from any of it for a week or even a day. On top of that, there’s really not that much involved with doing those few non-essential items that it really interferes with my ability to relax.

The book goes on to state that there are three different types of downtime: rest time, where you “set aside all activities and just allow yourself to be;” recreation time, where you engage in “activities that help to ‘re-create’ you, or serve to replenish your energy;” and relationship time, where you “put aside your private goals and responsibilities in order to enjoy being with another person.” This part makes sense – it’s a balance of all three types that help promote true relaxation, which is the goal of downtime.

Now, once I go back to school in the fall, all bets on my ability to maintain my checklist and school and downtime are off. I’ll just have to see what happens when the time comes. But for now, downtime is pretty much my life, and I’m thankful for it, even though it’s pretty boring on a daily basis.

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