Sunday morning was definitely on the chilly side, bright and beautiful but with an unmistakable sense that autumn is elbowing summer out of the way. As the equinox brings shorter days I feel an impulse to turn inwards and take some down time.
But I have to keep busy; I launched a new one year training programme over the weekend and tomorrow I travel to London, where I’ll be in back to back meetings and when I return to the office there’s plenty of admin to catch up with. The pace of life and work doesn’t recognise that the seasons bring their own change of pace. There is constant pressure to keep focussed, keep on doing, keep on achieving and attaining and keep the focus is relentlessly “out there”.
I know that I need down time and that if I don’t respect this need I may well find myself feeling overloaded, exhausted or resentful. Maybe I’ll start to catch sniffles and feel physically ‘under the weather’, or perhaps I’ll start to get snappy with my family. By down time I don’t mean sprawling in front of the TV with ice cream, collapsing at the end of the day with a glass of wine or surfing the net.
To be really nourishing down time needs to be a break from mental work. To just be, to be idle, like this morning when I gazed out of the window watching the sunlight and shadows chasing each other over Gidleigh Tor, or yesterday evening when I snuggled up under a favourite rug on the sofa with a book. I often take my down time in the Birdcage Café in Chagford over a cappuccino, walking by the river, at the allotment or in the garden or quietly sitting in meditation and when the weather gets colder I love gazing at a flickering fire; we all have our own favourite ways of taking a well earned break; my husband likes soaking in a hot bath, my son plays guitar.
I often feel guilty about taking down time, telling myself I’m lazy, but it is a necessary ingredient in getting perspective on life, standing back and seeing it whole. It brings focus, builds resilience and creates space so I feel able to take on work and other challenges. I learned the hard way that without these oases of calm it’s hard to feel inspired or engaged, it may seem counter intuitive but stopping is a necessary ingredient of getting things done effectively.
So as the season shifts you’ll probably be seeing me taking a bit more down time, and I hope you feel inspired to give some to yourself. Comment is free and I’d love to hear how you have been giving yourself some idle moments.