Well, I certainly have not been able to keep up with my plan to write in this blog every day. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, however, because my lapse has been due to a distinct lack of time to focus on it. When I say I lack time, I do not mean this in its most literal sense. Could I have written in this blog every day? Most certainly. It’s all a matter of priorities. But there’s only so much time to spread around.
There are a lot of things that take up my time. My job being chief among them, of course, which has been taking more than its usual share lately. But then there are household chores, exercise, eating, sleeping, and unwinding time. I find that a large percentage of my time, by necessity, must be unwinding time. Rest.
This is where I have, in the past, really started beating myself up. There’s this idea, instilled in me through the years both by myself and others, that taking down time is actually just wasting time. If you have time to watch a tv show or play a video game, you have time to dedicate to a creative project, or to do a chore, or whatever else fits the definition of being productive. But one cannot just be productive all the time without suffering the consequences.
What are those consequences? Well, stress, for starters, not to be trifled with. Stress causes so many health issues, both mental and physical. Humans are not really wired for dealing with stress. But aside from stress, there is burn-out. And the hard thing about burn-out is, those who are burnt out often do not even realize it. They just keep going, producing whatever it is that drives them forward, not realizing that thing they are producing… sucks.
Making anything of quality takes time, and part of the time it takes is down time. I find that, personally, if I just keep pushing myself forward, I can survive. I can produce. But when I have distanced myself from the projects I worked on during those periods enough to have some perspective, I look back and see that it was not good work. You can keep pushing yourself to produce every day and feel proud of that fact, but the work will suffer and so will your health.
So, I have given myself permission to have down time. Sometimes that’s going to be a few hours, sometimes it might be a few weeks. That’s just how it is. I am not going to force myself to produce for the sake of production (aside from getting a pay check, there is no helping that). I am learning to listen to myself and my own natural phases of productivity and rest.
Due to stress, I have been in a prolonged period of rest. Between the pandemic, political issues, and finding out my ex has been spreading some strange lies about me to our mutual friends, I have found myself wound very tightly. I wish I was a person who could just let things like that slide off of me like water off a duck’s back, but sadly I am the opposite. As my previous blog post illustrated, I have a hard time with letting go. Letting go of stress, sadly, is much the same.
So, I dedicate a lot of time toward unwinding, trying to get perspective, trying to find a healthy headspace. In the past, I have been shamed for this by others and have also beaten myself up about it, out of an idea that time is valuable, and “wasting time” is a great sin. I can look at those beliefs now and still see why they are such attractive and persuasive ideas. Time is, essentially, all we have. Every second is a second closer to our deaths. So aren’t those seconds vital? Isn’t it important to use those seconds to the maximum effect? “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”
But now I realize how toxic that notion is. While it is true that we only have so many minutes to live, and we can never know when that time is up… down time is not wasted time. It just isn’t. It is necessary, both to enjoy the time you do have in this life, and to maximize the time you are productive, at whatever it is that drives you. Let yourself rest. Give yourself time to gain a true perspective on the things you are doing, and then really analyze them. Your whole life will be enriched, I promise.