If you’re one of those people who leave the office only to grind away when you arrive home, postponing even the simple act of eating — we’re talking to you! We all have permission to relax and do absolutely nothing from time to time, a concept the Italians refer to as il dolce far niente.
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On a serious note though, believing that taking time out will only leave you more anxious and is therefore a waste of time was linked to less happiness and more depression, anxiety and stress, per a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Our constant focus on achieving more and more, without ever pausing to smell the roses is actually counterproductive, says Johannesburg clinical psychologist Sandra Papoutsis. “It actually keeps us on a never-ending treadmill of expectations that prevents us from experiencing the present moment,” says Papoutsis.
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Unwinding seems like too much? Remember that not everything needs to have a goal, a bit of a difficult mindset to adopt if you’re a recovering workaholic. You can start by unplugging from email and social media in favour of spending time with those you love, especially when nothing’s (urgent) on the agenda. Or schedule solo time to catch up on reading, TV or organising your closet.
3 Steps To Help You Enjoy Your Downtime According To An Expert
Clinical psychologist Sandra Papoutsis recommends following these simple steps
1. Switch Off
“Give yourself permission to turn off! It’s pointless taking time out if you allow your thoughts to leave you feeling guilty. Remember that you’re in charge of your thoughts and only you can turn them off.”
How To: Repeat self-affirming mantras, focus on what you can do now (not the future), take deep breaths, inhale a calming essential oil such as chamomile, clary sage or lavender.
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2. Embrace Your Senses
“Mindfully bring yourself into the moment; what can you hear, see, smell, taste and feel? This practice will distract you from those intrusive thoughts that drain your energy.”
How To: Get into the habit of engaging with various scents (freshly brewed coffee, fragrances, flowers etc), savour the flavours of food and drinks, go in for those long affirming hugs or treat yourself to a massage.
3. Recharge Mindfully
“Choose activities that fulfil you and feed your senses; indulging the senses facilitates recharge. In essence, dedicate more time to being in the moment!”
How To: Sit in nature, take a scented bath, listen to music, or analyse the lyrics to your favourite song.
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