6 reasons why space (downtime) matters

Lately I’ve had a run of conversations with clients about needing more space / down time / time to be creative / time for themselves.

In our conversations there is a sense of deficit. Like time itself is in short supply. Which, honestly, in many ways it is.

As a  culture we are totally addicted to doing and to making plans; it’s not unusual to have our time organised weeks if not months ahead. And boy do I know this place – before I moved to Cornwall (which has a slightlyyyy more laid back pace) this was how I organised myself too.  Every weekend, day, minute even was accounted for. I was always in a rush from one place to the next.

I know from my own life, and from the conversations I have with others, that there’s a whole host of reasons why we live like this. In many ways this madness sort of serves us.

What’s so important about being busy?

  • You might like to be busy and consider yourself more productive when you have a lot on. It’s the old adage “if you want something done ask a busy man”.
  • Maybe it’s a case of not wanting to miss out – cramming as much into 24 cheeky hours as you can. There is so much going on – events, friends, gatherings, work, keeping up with hobbies, interests, volunteering etc, it’s hard to prioritise without getting a sense that you might miss something.
  • Does it sometimes feel like being always busy is also about you craving and needing a feeling of movement? Like doing = progress. So being busy is a way to feel like you’re moving forward and not stuck or stagnant?
  • And, very likely, there’s something in here about feeling a bit fearful about an absence of plans. A bit edgy about a day stretched out ahead of you with nothing in it. And I can totally relate to this, having been a busy, over-planned person for most of my life, the first weekend after I moved to Cornwall where I had no plans – was a bit of a shock. And I’m not lying when I say I was genuinely a bit freaked out by this. I remember asking Liam what we were going to do with our time?! And his typically horizontal (beautifully Cornish) response was we just be – something will come up; “Let’s see how we feel”.

So because being busy serves us, we do what we’ve always done. Until either something in our external world changes. Or we change.

2014-03-11 16.10.50The space conundrum

And if you’re coming around to this realisation that being manically busy doesn’t work so well for you anymore because maybe it leaves you feeling depleted, zapped, frazzled, mentally hectic, fraught and tense or stressed even, then here’s another perspective. One that I personally bloomin’ love because it makes me happier:

Space matters!

  1. Space is restorative – you spend a huge amount of time being emotionally involved in problems and issues outside of you. Whether you’re focussing on the people around you, projects, or worldly issues, it’s easy to focus externally and ignore your internal. In this way you are continually expending your energy outwards and not replenishing that energy. Taking time and making space for you is restorative.
  2. Space is health inducing – A friend and I were talking taglines recently, and one that came up was “well fed”. As a mad foodie I love it because I believe we are what we eat. But it also resonates with me because it reminded me of our need for nourishment in other forms: emotional nourishment, physical, spiritual, energetic. And I think space (and whatever that means for you) is a great way to get the nourishment you need. We are human beings after all. We aren’t designed to spend all day doing.
  3. Space is the opportunity to build human + social capital – this might seem a bit of a backwards association, but depending on what space means and looks like to you it has the potential to be a place for you to reflect on, build, or grow plans to develop your own human capital, or possibly if space is the opportunity to be spontaneous maybe it provides you with the chance to spend more time in the moment with someone, making new friends… etc.
  4. Space is presence: When you’re off in the ether worrying about distant problems and logistics it’s easy to miss stuff that’s going on here and now. Making space can be a way of coming back to the present and really seeing. It’s a slowing down that lets you see the detail and enjoy the joy of this moment.
  5. Space is a chance to be grateful – in seeing the detail, and enjoying the present you can be much more grateful for all the amazing things you do have in your world rather than focussing on what’s missing (not that you’re a glass half empty kinda person, but it’s always good to have a reminder).
  6. Space is creativity – If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. It’s something like that eh?! If you want to think outside the box, to live differently, creativity (and therefore space) are probably key.

2014-07-30 16.10.15

Getting the balance

There’s no right or wrong here…that’s the first thing that I want to say. We’re all different and what works for you is probably totally different to what your friend or partner needs. But for me, I’ve come around to knowing that having space is essential for my wellbeing.

As I said, space can be a million different things to a million different people. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to go to the gym, go for a run, a walk, to the park, to watch the sunset, or to have your morning coffee in peace. For me it’s about being flexible with myself so if I have a busy weekend being okay with changing my mid-week plans to allow for some spontaneity. Which is the other thing that is really important – the ability to be spontaneous and do as I feel: So the weather’s good lets go for a walk with a hot chocolate in a travel-mug. Not being tied too much to routines and external pressures.

So, over to you

  • Do you feel like you’d love more space, more down time to rest and replenish?
  • If so what does space look like for you?
  • And what would having more space give you?

Also, does this blog resonate with you? Or maybe it makes you think of a friend or colleague that could do with a bit more piece of mind? Caring is sharing – please forward them this email so they can get the support, inspiration and perspective shift they need!

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    Copyright ©Joey Clifton 2014 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art

    © Joey Clifton 2014-15 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art