We've partnered with
Pure Leaf to reveal why you should say no to the pressure to be constantly productive and instead embrace downtime.
When IRL plans get cancelled, it's tempting to fill up your schedule with goals to accomplish — especially for Type A overachievers. If you're used to being busy, extra downtime can feel frivolous.
Still, every minute of your day doesn't have to be productive. Resist the temptation to set lofty goals for your newfound free time — think starting a side hustle or learning a new language — and instead embrace the break in your schedule. Follow these four steps to say no to the urge to be productive 24/7 and actually relax.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You're not your coworker, that Instagram influencer you follow, or your college roommate, so stop comparing yourself to them. Just because someone else used the extra time at home to learn French or train for a marathon doesn't mean you have to. It's more important to remain true to yourself — and how you want to spend your time — than to force yourself to pick up a new hobby just because someone else did.
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Listen to Your Intuition
Think about new hobbies the way you would cleaning out your closet: only things that bring you joy should stay. If you truly do want to read 50 books this year or take up tie-dye, go for it! On the flip side, if your body is telling you to take a nap, that's OK too. The key is separating the activities you really want to try from those that you just think you should do — and saying no to anything that doesn't make you happy.
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Focus on Your Breathing
If you're used to a busy schedule, having so much extra free time can be a bit unsettling at first. Quell those anxious feelings and slow down your body by concentrating on your breathing. Inhale to the count of four, hold your breath for two, then exhale for four. Repeat this exercise with your eyes closed until you feel more relaxed and less anxious. Or, try spending some time doing slow stretches to quiet your body. Focus on the sensations you feel in each stretch instead of allowing worries about what's happening next to creep in.
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Enjoy Your Free Time
The last — and sometimes most difficult — step is learning to enjoy your free time. For overscheduled overachievers, getting comfortable with the idea of saying no to things can be tricky. Think about all of the things you love that you can do with your newfound downtime. Whether that's time for a nightly bubble bath or the opportunity to finally get through your pile of to-be-read books, free time can be a beautiful thing.
Most of all, remember that free time is nothing to feel guilty about. Even if you don't do anything but relax on the couch, quiet moments spent at home can actually be a wonderful investment in your mental health. Sometimes, saying no to being busy can be a beautiful thing.
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