Did you know anxiety and stress is reaching epidemic proportions in our country? 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition.(1) There are a number of factors that can cause anxiety and stress disorders in youth and adults. One factor that I want to talk about is REST, or as the authors of The Self- Driven Child, William Stixrud and Ned Johnson call it, “RADICAL DOWTIME.”(2)
It is easy to say, right? REST. Get more sleep, don’t over-schedule, schedule time off, etc… All of these and more contribute to the raising issues I see in the athletes that come into our programs. So what can we do right now to provide a space for kids to rest, while still setting them up for success in the sports and passions they love participating in?
Let them DAYDREAM!
We practice this exercise before most lessons – especially with our athletes that come in looking, well…stressed! We draw a circle on the whiteboard in our classroom and make them stare at it for about 2 minutes. Why? This is usually the only moment of their day that they have allowed their mind to daydream, be bored, stare off into nothingness. Every kid says afterwards that they feel more relaxed and refreshed ready to go. They also say at first how uncomfortable it felt to hear their own thoughts…and that is the main issue! All creativity, problem solving, release of stress, comes from our ability to do absolutely nothing.
Now ask yourself this question as a parent: From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, how much time do you spend just staring off into nothing? If you are like me, I would bet it is less than 10 minutes a day.
As Stixrud and Johnson explain, “Think of the many activities, tasks, and interactions of daily life as snowflakes that fall on your brain in quick succession, making big, unruly piles that seem impossible to navigate around. Radical downtime is the snowplow that comes through and evens them out, giving order to your life so that you can ski smoothly.”
When we fail to daydream, get enough sleep, or allow ourselves to turn off phones, TVs, or other tasks that take our full concentration, we are basically allowing the landscape of our brain to reach avalanche proportions!
I hear you saying right now, “No shot that I can get my kid to turn off his phone 20 minutes before bed,” or, “My kid meditating? Ha!”
You are right! You cannot force them to do it. But you can educate them. Offer reasons why it’s a good idea to have a car ride with no radio or cell phone use or why leaving their devices downstairs before bedtime is important. Share the studies, explain the why, and you will be surprised how interested they are in their own well being. Better yet, allow mentors, coaches, BASE BY PROS (hint, hint) and others whose opinions they value express this. However, I will tell you right now that if you don’t practice what you preach, they will not follow.
Remember mirror neurons? Yeah, you have to change if you expect them to change. Monkey see, monkey do!
Our goal at BASE by Pros is to offer your athletes the Character, Mindset, Skill and Strength to be resilient, self driven people. Offering a holistic approach to training, we refuse to just toss kids in batting cages. We challenge every athlete to be autonomous . That is what #BASEdriven is all about.
In India’s ancient Vedic tradition, it is said that “rest is the basis of all activity.” REST, ACTIVITY, REST, ACTIVITY. Everything we do requires this alternation.
Why do we need Radical Downtime?
Think of the many activities, tasks, and interactions of daily life as snowflakes that fall on your brain in quick succession, making big, unruly piles that seem impossible to navigate around. Radical downtime is the snowplow that comes through and evens them out, giving order to your life so that you can ski smoothly.
What Radical Downtime isn’t:
- • Video games
- • TV
- • YouTube Videos
- • Texting Friends
- • Participating in Organized Sports or Activities
Is sleep considered Radical Downtime?
YES! It is a huge part of the issue in this generation. Sleep deprivation not only affects how tired you are, but it lessens your ability to perform various tasks and activities and is also the number one cause of stress.
Ways to have Radical Downtime:
- • Prayer
- • Meditation
- • Daydreaming
- • Driving in Silence (no radio)
What are some examples you can come up with?
2 The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson