The power of downtime (or why it’s okay that I watched 3 hours of Chopped)

Feeling run down? Burned out? Too darn tired to think?

You’re not alone.

Americans work more hours than any other developed nation in the world. We take fewer vacations. We like to complain about how much we work…especially when we log in at night on our computers or smart phones to quickly check some emails so we can get a jump on our day tomorrow.

Oh, and those supposedly time-saving electronics? Those are seriously messing with our ability to get the rest we need. Which means when we get to work the next day, we will be too tired to focus, which may lead to feeling like we’re falling behind, thereby making us feel like we HAVE to check our emails right before we go to bed.

And so it goes.

It’s not just work that has us in its grip. We’re constantly pulled in several directions – family, pets, friends, church, grocery shopping (ugh) – it all erodes at our ability to feel centered and in some semblance of control. Even when you love what you are doing, it can wear on you.


Do you think it’s not impacting your performance at work? Do you think it’s not impacting your relationships outside of work?

Let me know when you come back to reality, you incredibly misguided (yet blissfully hopeful) soul.

That’s why I’m making the case for Couch Night / Binge Watching / Vegging Out. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to sit like a lump and let your brain take a rest. There are those who would probably advocate more for an evening picnic, or a walk with the family around the block. That’s fine. If you want to be all active and one with nature, more power to you. (Actually, exercise is really good for reducing stress. Go do that. But don’t be all #humblebrag about it, okay?)

Me? I watch Chopped. Like…a LOT of Chopped*.

Zero demands on my brain, zero stress, no concerns about SPOILERS (I’m looking at you, Game of Thrones watchers), and I occasionally learn something about cooking. But that’s not important. What’s important is that it helps me decompress and step away from the day to day of work.

The 24/7 cycle of work, social media, and your “brand” puts so much pressure on people to be “on” all the time. We feel pressure to be perfect. We feel pressure to clever. We feel pressure to be productive.

We feel pressure.

I say screw that. Unplug. Watch too much TV for one night; eat some ice cream; build a Lego Death Star; whatever helps you chill out, renew, and refresh – and do it without feeling guilty.

You’ve earned that downtime, dammit.

Use it.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
– Chinese Proverb

*I also have an unhealthy love of Air Disasters and Engineering Disasters. I’m weird, okay?