How Does Downtime Help to Empty Your Mind and Improve Quality of Life?

“No, I can’t rest or relax.  What is going to happen with my work performance, my income, and my productivity?”

Many people may feel uncomfortable, frightened or annoyed with words like “Rest, relax, slow down, wait, pause or stop”. Especially those who have a strong need for productivity, competition, achievement, appreciation or survival. When they hear those words, they may interpret them in different ways, it depends on their experience and attitude. Some may think those words describe laziness, weakness, and dullness, etc.

Do you ever feel tense because of too many tasks waiting ahead?

Do you feel tense and stressed by the work you are doing?

Do you ever feel anxious about facing problems or difficulty?

Do you remember, at what time do you get fresh energy to make a new start?

Where does your fresh energy come from?

What helps you to have a clear mind to better solve problems in your daily life ?

Most of my clients say that they get creative or new ideas when they are relaxed or calm. Taking time to slow down, rest, relax and let go doesn’t mean taking time from being productive but rather it supports and increases your achievement — if you know how to do it.

*This research confirms why we need downtime.

It is true and possible that many times when you start to rest, you may start thinking about the past or the future automatically. Then your brain is just busy like a traffic jam. In this article, I will introduce several ways to rest and free your mind by shifting your attention from thinking to feeling and sensing instead. Certainly, it is not easy to stop thinking but you actually can train your mind if you want to.  

The benefits of rest and relaxation.

  1. Develop your concentration. 
  2. Strengthen your parasympathetic nervous system (decreased heart rate and high blood pressure, improved digestion, increased production of saliva and mucus, increased urine secretion and relaxed bronchial muscles) 
  3. Clear the mind so you experience peace and calm.
  4. Become more open and aware of everything happening around you.
  5. Become more open and aware of everything happening inside you.
  6. Have better sensitivity and experience the world as it is.
  7. Be less judgemental and less stressed.
  8. Make better decisions and actions.
  9. Improve skills to cope with problems and difficulty.
  10. Become more creative. 
  11. Get more productive.
  12. Experience joy, love, and compassion for self and others. 
  13. Have a healthy life.

What is a good time for you to pause, break, rest or slow down? 

  • During the busy periods of your day.
  • When you are busy with projects and you can’t focus. 
  • When you are experiencing intense feelings.
  • When you are facing mental and physical discomfort.
  • Anytime that you need or want to.

You can remind yourself to take a break by setting an alarm or a bell on your phone.

Several techniques for resting. 

You can do all of the practices below whether sitting, standing or lying on your back. Allow yourself to stay in a stable and comfortable with eyes closed. If you feel sleepy, you can open your eyes but look down.


  • At a busy time during the day.


1.Stop- Breaths and Feel (Check-in 2 mins)

1.1  Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, especially during your busy time, stop.

            1.2  Take a deep breath, then slowly breathe out.

1.3  Survey your body. Notice body sensations and alignment. 

1.4  Ask yourself, what are my feelings right now? 

1.5  Check in with your thoughts, what’s going on in my mind?

1.6  If you are holding on to some part of your body, gently adjust or let go.

1.7  Bring back attention to your breaths (normal breaths) until they slow down slowly, finally.


2.Pause for 20 breaths (3 mins)

2.1 Stop your activity, then bring your attention to your breaths. (You can do the check-in practice above.)

2.2 Breath normally or, if you want to take a deep breath, try not to push too much.

2.3 Count your breaths from 1-10. (One breath means breath-in and breathe-out.) 

2.4 Train your mind to focus on the sensation of one breath at a time.

2.5 After ten breaths, repeat. Count backwards from 9-0.

2.6 Then let go of your counting, just feel the rhythm and sensation of your breathing. 

2.7 Observe the sensations of your whole body, then maintain your focus and sense of peace for a while. 


3.Rest in deep awareness (4mins)

3.1  Stop your activity, then bring your attention to your breaths. (You can do the check-in practice above.)

3.2  Rest quietly, noticing what you are doing, in which position, where?

3.3  Feel the sensation of your breaths and your body.

3.4  If you feel your breath is shallow and your body needs more air, try to breathe nice and deeply for a few breaths. Then let go of controlling, just follow normal breaths.

3.5  Notice your thoughts, let them pass by.

3.6  Open up to any sensation; sound, light, smell, body sensations, thoughts, feelings, anything that shows up.

3.7 Keep maintaining your intention to notice and be aware of everything that is happening inside and outside and let everything pass by without doing anything.

Continue to sense things as they are for as long as you want.

For all of these techniques, use your breath as a home base. Whenever you can, bring your attention back home. 


  • During a break or at the beginning or end of your day. (If you have time from 6 -10 mins)


1.Mindfulness meditation practice (6 mins)

You can listen to this audio to guide your practice.

2.Deep relaxation (10 mins) 

You can listen to this audio to guide your practice

3.Progressive Muscle Relaxation after physical exercise (8 mins)


4. Body Scan Meditation (9 mins)

  • After physical exercise like running, hiking, cardio or yoga practice, etc. (4 min. You can sit in a comfortable and stable position or lie down.)

After your practice, spend some time noticing your feelings again, then be thankful and grateful for yourself and finally, ask yourself “What is important in my life?”, “Do I take time to take care of those things?”

I would like to invite you to take the time to allow yourself to practice. The more you practice, the more your brain develops a new skill, you will be able to use this skill (ability to stay with body sensation). Then you can apply it into whatever physical exercises or resting time effectively, then you will get a huge benefit mentally and physically, and it automatically improves your whole quality of life. 

Author: Kessuda Boonngamanong

Mindfulness, Yoga and Enneagram instructor. Certified MBSR (Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction) teacher and Enneagram Professional Teacher and Coach, teaching Mindfulness and Yoga for more than 20 years. She is also certified as a Relationship, Spiritual Coach, Emotional Management and Family Life Coach. 

Author of “Yoga Awareness” book and founder of Yosuda: Awakening Space  

Leave a Reply

Your Email address address will not be published. Required fields are marked *