Today I am going to talk about the philosophy behind suspending our normal routine for short periods of time with the objectives of destressing, relaxing, nourishing and healing ourselves.
We commonly use the phrases – downtime and me-time interchangeably and we mean to say that we are destressing ourselves and it leads to inner healing, but there are subtle differences.
Downtime generally refers to stepping back from our involvement with an intense activity, so that the mind and the body can relax. The idea is to reduce our stress by way of stepping down from a high intensity activity to a low intensity one, such as coming home and putting the television on, or after intense study we tend the garden or speak to a friend over the phone. This low intensity activity may still be stress producing but we feel better because we feel relieved of the stress of an intense activity.
Me-time on the other hand means we are switching from our activities meant for others welfare to those that are done in order to look after ourselves. It’s about nurturing our inner being. However, there may be an overlap between these two but philosophically, these are two separate activities. Downtime would be moving away from stressful activities so that our mind and body can heal and me time is about looking after one’s own needs.
Me-time may involve our actions performed in the outside world and it can also mean working within.
It can be about pampering oneself, doing something that we enjoy such as listening to our favourite music, grooming, hairstyling, body massage, manicure, pedicure, using cosmetics, shopping, reading a novel etc. The idea behind having me-time is to look after your own body, your mind and your soul.
One the other hand me time can also mean nurturing ourselves by way of connecting with our inner being with the idea of inner healing, feeling relaxed and peaceful.
Doing yoga, catching up on sleep, various relaxation exercises would fall in this category.
As opposed to the above two which may still be producing some stress and may not help us undo the stress that is already there inside of us, the third category of inner healing time specifically addresses the issue of working on one’s inner stress.
Inner Healing time
During downtime if you are chatting with a friend or watching television or reading a novel, all these activities can still create new emotions and new stress, and the mind gets engaged with that pleasurable activity. As a result, it’s not free to work on the inner stress.
In a similar fashion, during me-time if someone is indulging in a manicure or pedicure or pampering oneself, the mind is still engaged in a pleasurable experience and it is not free to work on the inner stress.
It is therefore important to understand that if we really want to de-stress ourselves at the deepest level, we should pick up only certain activities from the downtime list as well as me-time list, which can free the mind from its entanglement with pleasurable as well as unpleasant experiences, as even pleasurable experiences can cause stress or stop the mind from de-stressing itself as it is busy doing something. Its like you car which can be serviced only when it comes to a standstill.
It is only an emotionally neutral mind that can do inner healing. It is therefore important that we should abstain from even pleasurable experiences during our inner healing time, and that results in stress reduction at a deeper level.
I hope you have found this discussion helpful.
© Kishore Chandiramani, Consultant Psychiatrist
Emotions Clinic, Education and Training Centre Cic, Staffordshire, England