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Thursday 7 March 2024

The Importance of Downtime

Words by Madelaine Couch

There are places around the world, where people are living well into their hundreds and claiming to be some of the happiest. These places are called  Blue Zones  and are located in Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia, Loma Linda in California, and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. 

The lifestyle of the people living in these locations has a few things in common. They have an abundance of sunshine, eat locally grown organic food, are close to the sea, and experience a very strong sense of community. They take time out to be calm and enjoy life. It sounds so simple.

Yet, in many parts of Europe and America, so many of us are experiencing chronic stress, which causes mental and physical health problems. It is estimated that in Britain, 79% of adults experience some work-related stress. Anxiety and depression are rampant. Now, more than ever, it is essential to introduce wellbeing practices into our daily lives and prioritize downtime. Rituals and habits that bring us back into the present moment, and our bodies into a state of calm, can add years to our lives.

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So, what can we do? 

So, what can we do?  Headspace  is a great place to start the practice of meditation. Introducing just ten minutes a day can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Practising yoga for twenty minutes a day, especially  Yin Yoga  which calms the nervous system, can help create a sense of ease in the body. Cooking a healthy, organic meal and taking time over it is also a meditative practice. The food we put into our bodies has a great effect on our health and wellbeing. And spending time with loved ones (which, right now isn’t possible due to the pandemic, but it will be) is so important for our mental and physical health. In Susan Pinker’s  TED Talk   she claims that the key to a longer life is a good social network.

Life doesn’t always have to be about productivity and success. We can slow down, be more aware of the present moment, soften our step and breathe more deeply. 


Allowing things to be as they are, eating a wholesome diet, stretching the body, and laughing with friends are all essential 

to a healthy life.

The elderly women of Okinawa meet daily to sip green tea and gossip about their lives. This space to connect and communicate is a form of healing for them. It is a place to vent the struggles in their lives, and have others to share them with. By taking time to be with friends and just talk, we release stress in our bodies, we feel less alone, and ultimately, we are better off for it. There is a lot to be said of good food, friendship and a little bit of tranquility. 

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