Time off and what to do with it

— July 25, 2011

Whether you work full time or part time, and if you love, loathe or just feel indifferent about your job, working takes it out of us.  That is all part of the contract, you get paid for putting something of yourself into your work, either physically, mentally or both.  The time you have off, evenings, weekends, and weekdays if you are lucky enough, are all yours. I had a suggestion to write a post giving ideas about what to do in your free time, and so here it is. Try them out and pick the ones that will most regenerate you.

  • Sleep!  Bit of an obvious one this.  Some organisations are actually installing ‘sleep pods’ and rest areas for afternoon naps in recognition of the importance of sleep on productivity.   I ran a poll to find out what people do on their time off and one person added an “as little as possible” category. On the same poll sleeping got the second highest number of votes.
  • Spend time with your family.  This got the highest number of votes on my poll.  It is important to reconnect with those closest to us, and work is usually a separation.  Sometimes this is a good thing of course!  Time away makes time together more precious.
  • Read.  There is so much out there.  Even if you are not normally an avid reader there will be a book out there to captivate you, you just need to find it!  Join a library, ask for recommendations, read reviews, or (best of all) buy a Kindle, where you can download unlimited first chapters of countless books.  This was another popular choice on the poll.
  • Exercise.  So important for physical release of stress, looking after number one, and keeping yourself healthy.  A friend of mine recommended swimming as an opportunity for some ‘Zen’ time.
  • Cook.  Whether this is meals to make the week easier, restaurant quality meals for your loved ones, or trying out that new recipe that you have been hanging on to, cooking can be very therapeutic and a great way of switching off.  Just be prepared for it to be demolished in half the time in took to cook, even if you have cooked it for yourself.
  • Clean.  This was a suggestion on the poll.  For some it is a neccessity, for some a hobby (yes really) and for some the one thing to avoid at all costs.  Whatever you feel about it, you can’t deny that it is very satisfying once it is all done.  Looking after your own environment comes up a lot in coaching as a factor in personal satisfaction.
  • DIY.  The same can be said about DIY as cleaning, except it is not as straightforward!  Some of us are better than it than others….
  • Nuture a hobby.  Language classes?  Book groups? Calligraphy? Local choir? Running club? Allotment? Eating out? Cross stitch? What is the one thing you have always wanted to try?  Find time, book it in.  Doing things at the same time every week or month mean that they will become a habit sooner.
  • Go on a trip with a child that you know (get permission first if they aren’t yours)!  Showing the world to children makes you view everything through fresh eyes.
  • Get out into nature.  Whether this is the beach, the forest or the mountains, nature has a way of calming and refreshing you. I am lucky enough to live next door to Epping Forest and stepping foot there is instantly relaxing.
  • Plan your next holiday.  Making sure you have extended time off and away is so important, and looking forward to it is all part of it.
  • Ebay your clutter.  It is very satisfying to find new homes for your unwanted items, you will give someone a bargain and also avoid adding to landfill.  Only danger is that you might end up buying someone else’s!
  • Volunteer.  If you have any energy left from your day job then there are organisations desperate for extra help.  Find somewhere to invest your time and help, and do a good turn.
  • Dance!  This was a suggestion from a friend who runs a dance class who says that dancing is good for your soul.  She should know….
  • Write a book.  Another suggestion from a friend who is currently writing an amazing autobiographical book that he plans to get published.  If he reads this I am hoping he will post the link below so he can share a preview with you and tell you what he is getting from the process….. apart from entertaining us all of course!
  • Learn to play an instrument.  Again another suggestion from a friend who learnt the guitar, and if the clips on Facebook he posted are anything to go by it is well worth doing.  He said that it only takes half an hour a day to be as bad as him….think he was joking about the bad bit but surely we can all spare half an hour a day?  Playing an instrument is a stress reliever.
  • Find a child to read a book to.  I watched a programme recently that said that 33% of children in the UK don’t own a book, and that many parents don’t read to their children at bedtime.  It is so important for language acquisition, interaction and learning about the world.  Just ten minutes would be an investment in future generations and build a bond with the child.
  • Finally, just ‘be’.  On a leadership course I attended they spent the first couple of days bringing it home to us that we are human ‘beings’ not human ‘doings’.  If you are anything like me you have a list as long as your arm of things to do, and are rushing to get them done.  If you rush through life doing things then you miss what is going on around you.  Take time out to do nothing and just be yourself.  On the course they sent us into the elements up the side of a fell on our own for a few hours to try it out.  You don’t need to do that, just go out somewhere peaceful, be quiet, and observe all that is going on around you.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, it is just some ideas for you to think about.  It doesn’t really matter what you do, you just need to find the things that suit you, help you wind down and relax, and enjoy life to the full.   This will be different for each and every one of us.

Please do share what works for you by adding to the comments section below.

Enjoy your time off!

Claire

Leave a comment…

  1. From victoria
    — July 25, 2011

    Very wise words – it is all common sense really but is so easily forgotten in the chaos of life! x

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