Ideal downtime activities

Post by Amanda Walters for the Kind Kindred series.

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Even engines, machines and electronics need a break. A chance to cool down, maybe a little lubrication, some fuel and a dose of tender loving care. A recharge. You get the point. Being made of iron, steel, microchips and galvanised alloys does not make them invincible to strain.

Whereas us homosapiens (barring perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger) are organic machines made of membranes, cells, bone and, basically speaking, mostly water. We are a flimsy species. This means we need even more downtime to help our brains and bodies recover from the hamster wheel of modern life, which can burn even the most gregarious of us out. Even children need downtime after all the running around, playing, short school days and eating of sweets they spend their time doing and they don’t even have jobs or have to wash their own clothes. Adults don’t get nap times.

The rigidity of adult life for most people means relaxation can take many forms. Sometimes a burst of adrenaline is what is needed to jolt you from the seemingly mundane routine. Race days are a popular choice for the petrol heads. If you enjoy living more at the roll of a dice then a chance or two can be taken with a simple click.

A quiet read can also help drag your brain, kicking and screaming, out of action mode. Other activites such as knitting, exercise, team sports, listening to music and playing an instrument can all be effective at providing idol concentration and escapism for your brain.

What pursuits are best for me?

Anything that occupies you enough to draw your thoughts away from your stresses, but that conversely doesn’t add to your pile, would be perfect. As the world gets busier psychologists are placing an increased emphasis on the importance of relaxation. Psych Central discuss playtime for adults and how it shouldn’t be restricted to competitive sports.

For example, walking in the park can be effective in two ways. Engaging in nature helps to awaken all of your senses and quietens the mind. Thinking about what you can smell, feel and hear helps shift your thought patterns away from sources of anxiety. Both of these side effects help reduce stress. Idle web browsing can also be an addictive form of downtime.

With the world at your fingertips it is bizarre how easily we drift into a browsing pattern, looking over the same sites over and over again. Try some fresh pages. There are millions of pages dedicated to just about every hobby, educational topic or purchasable product. It can be satisfying to accrue knowledge on a new topic. It will also make you popular amongst your pub quiz team.

Your nearest city is also likely to have a plethora of galleries, museums and live events that are often free. Enriching the mind, getting you out of the house for a walk and providing you and your partner or friends with something substantial to talk about can make for an interesting reset button.

Meditation, breathing exercises, doodling, writing down your victories of the day, some online chess, or even the puzzles section of the paper with your coffee. Everybody is different. Just remember to be kind to yourself – as forgiving and respectful of your body as you are your car. The difference being, you only have one you.

Amanda Walters is an experienced freelance writer. Graduating with a 2:1 in Journalism and creative writing in 2009, she has since enjoyed five years of creating strong relationships with a range of site owners and is now a regular contributor to Huffington Post. She loves to read, and has a passion for all things weird an wonderful. She strives to reach others through her writing. Follow her on Twitter

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