We are just starting some days off in many countries (Easter holidays) or a period with less activity in others (Ramadan) and it is probably a good moment to talk about the benefits of enjoying that time by doing nothing and having fun in our productivity for the time we go back to work.
In uncertain times like these, it’s natural to feel anxiety, stress and tiredness but being consumed by these feelings isn’t good for our mental health. With stress, the brain will disconnect more often from the task at hand, and we may find ourselves lost while working. Indeed, we all experienced the challenge of maintaining focus over long periods of time and how hard is dealing with other feelings such as frustration or tiredness.
All in all, being mentally exhausted is not a good starting point to be productive the next day.
What we can do to recover
There are 7 main activities that nurture the mind and helps us to recover, but today I’d want to talk about the effect of having downtimes and playtimes.
Downtime is about having no intention of consciously engaging in doing anything; that is to say we do nothing on purpose having time to disconnect and let our mind wander. It is a time when we don’t pay attention to our environment and, somehow, we go offline.
If we go there, we activate our unconscious thinking mode which we need for integration (linkage between different thoughts) and insight. This is important because it is known that unconscious thinkers outperform conscious analysts when making complex decisions.
Moreover, when we are involved in solving a very complex problem, a conscious break in this task – let our mind wander – may eventually facilitate the solution process and let our creativity emerge.
Maybe this sounds familiar. How many times you solve a problem while you watch TV (without paying attention) or while listening to music or while cooking a very well-known recipe?
The learning here is that we can intentionally look for these moments, training our mind for consciously doing nothing.
To help in our mental recovery we also can play and consciously look for playtimes.
You may think that playing is an unimportant thing when we have an age. But, in reality, playing has a key role in our emotional system and essential to develop creativity and learning.
When we are feeling anxiety or frustration, we lack resources to face different situations, including social. Playing is essentially a social phenomenon, and it leads to other things like laughter in human interactions. That strengths social bonds, growing the sense of belonging and therefore alleviating that former said feelings.
There are many ways we can work on our emotional state and playing is a powerful resource. Having fun, being spontaneous and strengthening social bonds as results of playing have enormous benefits in our mental health.
In summary, I hope you find the time for doing nothing and having fun to go back to work in your best shape.