Decompressing on Days Off


Decompressing On Off Days
By Brad Marshall, M.Ed, CFL-1, PNL1, MSPE Certified, O2X Mental Performance Specialist

You’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Between working, taking care of yourself and your family, fitting in time to move, eat, and sleep, it feels overwhelming. You finally have a day that is not filled from sun up to sun down with tasks and to do lists. You’re looking forward to taking full advantage of this opportunity to decompress and regroup. So the question is, what do you do with this time that isn’t structured and planned? 

You have probably heard the saying,“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you find yourself constantly trying to take care of others in your job and home life and it feels like you’ve been running on empty lately, you’re not alone. This is a very common experience that leads to irritability, frustration, and burnout. 

We’re going to look at a few different strategies to refill that cup so that you can continue to serve others and yourself to get 1% better each day.

3 Strategies to Decompress

1. Prioritize time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy. 

Golf, Disc golfing, hiking, mountain biking, working on vehicles, reading, writing, spending time in nature, watching movies, going to a local coffee shop, getting together with a friend. As you read through this list, do any of these activities stand out as something you would LOVE to do? Do others just sound like more work? Pick the activities that excite you and make a priority to engage in them for the day. So many times we spend our days off cycling through a to-do list that feels like more work. In this scenario, all that’s left after we do all of our chores is typically a few minutes before it’s time for bed and back to our normal work week. Prioritize and even schedule when you’re going to do something for you! 

2. Limit technology

Our day-to-day lives are run by technology. Calendars, emails, text messages, calls, social media, and everything in between keeps our attention on alert all day. This constant attack on our attention wears us down and leaves us feeling worn out and married to our devices. On days when you are not required to be checking in, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out and leave your devices on silent or do not disturb. This will allow you to connect with the people, places, and activities you enjoy and fully immerse yourself in the present moment. 

3. Sleep

What’s the most powerful performance enhancing drug on the planet? Sleep. Sleep impacts so many areas of our lives, and it is one of the best ways to refill our cup on off days. We may not be able to sleep as consistently or as long as we would like during our days that include work, which means we can take advantage of the opportunity to get more sleep on the days when our calendars are not as full. Getting great sleep starts the night before our off day by staying consistent with when we go to bed. Try to limit caffeine intake after 2pm and limit alcohol consumption. Both caffeine and alcohol consumption can decrease the quality of our sleep significantly. If you do not have any plans in the morning, wake up naturally without an alarm and notice whether your body was craving some extra zzz’s.  If your regular sleep schedule has you up early, then perhaps layer in a nap throughout the off day. 

Turning Off 

While we may subscribe to the non-stop always turned on lifestyle during our work days, taking advantage of off days and working to refill our individual cups can be as simple as turning off our phones, getting a little extra sleep, and being fully present for the hobbies and activities we enjoy most. Prioritize yourself by following these simple steps and you’ll continue to get 1% better each day.