We are often giving ourselves excuses as to why we simply cannot relax - our inboxes are too full with emails that need to be replied to, the house is too dirty and there are dishes in the sink, or we just have better or "more important" things to do. When we actually have a little bit of time to finally breathe and catch a moment to ourselves, we instantly feel stressed or even worse - guilty. I often question why we now often feel guilty about relaxing and taking time to enjoy our free-time. As a society, it may be due to this constant pressure that is exerted from the saying, "make it until you break it." This quote teaches us that the only way to be successful is putting in the constant hard work and motivation, never having a moment to just simply idle and be. But one's measure for success doesn't have to be simple based on money, which I am hoping more and more people begin to learn. Just because happiness isn't quantifiable doesn't mean that it should get out-weighed by one's income.
You should never feel guilty about taking free-time for yourself. It is, however, within our nature to keep on grinding away. We want to be more productive, be happy, and be successful, but none of these things can actually happen if you aren't taking your mental health into consideration. When we exhaust ourselves to the brink of a burnout, we are only increasing unnecessary stress and causing long-term damage to our mental states and physical health. If you want to create stress-free, guilt-free, free-time to unwind and relax, here is out guide for you:
"Budget" Your Time
I have read on a post written by time-management expert Laura Vanderkam where she created an analogy of budgeting your time like you would budget your money. In her thinking, she had said,
"Creating adequate categories reminds your brain that you’re making progress toward all your priorities, and keeps you from feeling guilty about putting, say, $100 toward your vacation fund in March, even though there are other things you could be doing with that cash."
When it comes to creating free-time, Laura Vanderkam suggests doing the same. For example, let's say you work a steady 9-5, Monday through Thursday. You have time when you get home to relax, but you choose to instead focus on tasks that you couldn't finish at work, or spend time cleaning and taking care of the house instead. While cleaning may be important, consider allowing yourself at least 15 minutes during your time home to just completely relax - that means getting away from your phone or your work laptop to just do whatever. This good be watching TV, reading a book, or just doing something that is simple that you love. You are taking out one hour out of your 96 hours of sleep, work, and eating to relax.
Practicing your time management throughout your work days allows yourself to not feel guilty about whether or not you are also budgeting in time for free-time and relaxation. Once you also get into the practice of this assignment, you will start to understand that relaxation isn't so much of a chore as it is much more of a duty to yourself and your mental health. It may sound silly to have to schedule relaxation for yourself, but here is the thing - once you actually start doing it more, the more it will start to feel good and the more rewarding it becomes.
Understand Why You Need Free-Time
When it comes to making free-time, understand the benefits that come from it. Free-time is much more then just relaxing. It is about taking time to reward yourself for the hard work you put into the day. It is also taking a moment to practice some self-care - checking in with your body and being able to improve your mental well-being and overall health. When it comes to free-time, check out these benefits:
- You'll Be More Productive - Did you know you can actually achieve more by doing less? In not overloading your schedule, taking time to properly plan out your tasks for the day, and managing your time wisely can actually help you be more productive. When you also make time to relax, you allow your mind to rest and build the energy it needs to take tasks head-on with ease and determination. You'll find yourself being able to concentrate more, think more creative, and do work more effectively.
- You'll Be In More Control Of Your Life - Do not let work take over your life! When you schedule free time, it makes you focus on life and the other priorities you have, like your family and friends.
- It Will Provide A Different Perspective On Life - When you start being able to have free-time, you'll find that you will have a better well-being and motivation towards life. Being busy all the time is a recipe for neuroticism, so planning out time for your family, friends, and relaxation is the ultimate key to combat this.
How To Make Free-Time
If you are often having difficulty trying to make free-time, consider doing the following to help you ensure you find time to kick-it-up and relax:
- First, Figure Out How Much Time You'll Need - Research suggests that we need at least 7 hours of free-time a day - I know, when I read it to, I thought it was crazy! While we all probably fall short of it, this can serve as a reminder that our work lives should not determine whether we get to treat ourselves to a break. Knowing how to properly create free-time within our schedules can be an affectively strategy, and knowing how much we need a day will surely help make things clearer.
- Prioritize Your Free-Time - In whatever productivity tool you use, such as a calendar, to-do list, or planner, make sure that your free-time is as high of a priority as your most important tasks.
When it comes to your free-time, never feel guilty for taking the time for yourself. Everyone needs a break and time to unwind, so instead of being ashamed for it, turn it into your duty!