Chamber News

Why Downtime is on the Upswing | Columbus Chamber Connection | June 2024

June 20th, 2024

As we all move through our busy lives, balancing home responsibilities and handling all that our workplace asks us to do; many Americans are feeling emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.  Hot on the heels of the “Great Resignation” era that saw over 47 million U.S. workers voluntarily leave their jobs, comes the Great Exhaustion.

A lack of restorative rest is plaguing many in our workforce, causing more illness, drops in productivity, increased errors and overall dissatisfaction with their jobs.  How did we become a nation of tired and stressed-out people?

According to a recent The Gallup poll, 57% of Americans say they would feel better if they could get more sleep, while only 42% say they are getting as much sleep as they need. That’s a first in Gallup polling since 2001; in 2013, when Americans were last asked, it was just about the reverse — 56% saying they got the needed sleep and 43% saying they didn’t. Younger women, under the age of 50, were especially likely to report they aren’t getting enough rest.

When it comes to better sleep, the Mayo Clinic suggests the following 6 steps to more productive sleeping routine:

Stick to a sleep schedule

Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to be well rested. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes of going to bed, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed, but continue to maintain your sleep schedule and wake-up time.

Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Discomfort might keep you up. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can interfere with sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

 Create a restful environment

Keep your room cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light in the evenings might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs. Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.

Limit daytime naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. Limit naps to no more than one hour and avoid napping late in the day. However, if you work nights, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.

 Include physical activity in your daily routine

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. However, avoid being active too close to bedtime. Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.

 Manage worries

Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety.

In addition to tips to promote better sleep habits and outcomes, we need to also identify signs that we need breaks throughout the day…not just at bedtime. Rest  isn’t limited to taking a nap or tucking yourself in at the end of your day.  Here we a few ways to incorporate more downtime:

  • Elevate and prioritize the importance of rest as a good health practice. Just as we need a well-balanced array of food groups to ensure a healthy diet, we also need different avenues to resting our bodies and minds.
  • Layer work and rest to be more productive and decrease burnout.  If possible, focus on working in blocks of focused 90-120 minutes, followed by rest breaks of 20-30 minutes.  
  •  Reframe our thinking about “who deserves “and “what activity” justifies dedicated and intentional downtime.  We have been conditioned to believe that rest needs to be earned and that pressing through to the point of exhaustion is a badge of honor.  When, in fact, this approach to our own wellbeing has done great harm to our overall health

Check out this resource:

Art of Rest Columbus Museum of Art and Replenish Well and the Yoga Carriage

Art of Rest is a quarterly mindfulness program in partnership with Replenish Well & The Yoga Carriage.

With the rush of the busy world, how do we infuse rest into our everyday life?

Join us for an intentional, inspired, and communal 2-hour rest curation. We invite in spaciousness, curiosity, and calm. We will explore ways to create equanimity in the body, mind, and heart through the energy giving power of rest. Art of Rest is an invitation to calm the central nervous system and re-awaken you to present moment awareness.

Rest requires comfort. Wear comfortable layers of clothing for temperature regulation. Please bring a yoga mat, blanket and one or two pillows. We recommend having a journal, pencil, and water bottle.

Cost of the program is $25 for CMOA members, $30 for nonmembers. Registration is encouraged.  September 8 11:00 AM–1:00 PM

Kelly Fuller 
Senior Vice President of Columbus Chamber Foundation