The Importance of Switching Off for a Healthy Life

As a blogger/influencer, I never switch off. Even on holiday I’m constantly thinking about what Instagram picture I’m going to share at what time, what blog posts are scheduled and shared, whether my emails are responded to in a timely manner. The line between work and play is most definitely blurred.

At my old job I used to set an OOO (Out Of Office) and not check my emails while I was away (more than once or twice!) however I’d never considered setting an OOO on my blog email until I received one from my friend Sophie.

I feel like I’m ‘ON’ all the time.

New research from Bupa shows that only 5% of us actually pause and take time out during the day to rest due to work commitments, social pressures and the rise of technology.

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

Right now this over-commitment is making me feel completely overwhelmed. Between studying for my dietetics exams, four coursework deadlines in the next four weeks, planning a wedding (and trying to please everyone and feeling like I’m pleasing no-one), nannying, blogging and freelancing…oh and training for two marathons – I have zero downtime.

You might have noticed my Instagram post yesterday was a little different… I’ve teamed up with Bupa to take time out of my busy schedule to encourage both me and YOU to embrace those critical moments of rest after a busy day or marathon training cycle!

It’s important for your mind and body to recover properly, to repair if you’re ill or injured (this can be anything from a muscle niggle to exhaustion), and help you get back to doing what you love.

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

I partnered with Bupa to take some time out after the Boston and  London Marathons to relax and reset (and start revising for my summer exams). It’s really important as part of your general health to look after your nervous system and lower your stress levels through regular relaxation, sleep and techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

It can also be really helpful to speak to a GP if you’re suffering either emotionally or physically – it took me ages until I saw my doctor about my anxiety only to discover that a side effect of the medication I was on was making it worse. She recommend a different treatment alongside mindfulness techniques. Bupa has a range of services including GP appointments and physio consultations as part of a pay as you go service – so you don’t need health insurance or  to take out a contract with them to benefit. Ideal if you’ve picked up a marathon niggle.

Personally, going offline yesterday helped me prioritise my uni work without the distractions of social media (I have 6 deadlines within 6 weeks, including 2 exams!). I went to a gym class with a friend and had dinner in town with friends (didn’t look at my phone once during our catch up). I also put the time aside for a bit of a trainer clear out which was really cathartic – and should earn me some brownie points with Tom for tidying!

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

Whether you need to prioritise your rest days when you’re training, switch off your phone an hour before bed, or spending the time planning a holiday with friends or family (and putting an out of office on!). In fact, we’ve just organised a trip to the South of France with friends and our B&B doesn’t have wifi – a few months ago I would have freaked out about this. However, I’m actually excited to totally switch off social media, emails etc for the week and really enjoy the time with friends on a digital detox.

Did you know that research shows that we Brits spend 11.5 hours a day working, including on our commutes to and from home (totally guilty of this), 52 mins a day checking emails and 53 mins a day on social media. There are actually apps you can download to see how often you unlock your phone per day, I guarantee it will highlight how often you mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook without looking for anything in particular.

It’s funny, when I see my friends and peers, we talk about how busy we are almost as a badge of honour. I’m praised for fitting it all in – for the 5am runs, for managing to balance everything. Whereas when I see my Grandparents or Mum, they talk about how I need to slow down, and stop saying yes to things. For our generation it seems to be normal to do everything, we feel like we’re failing if we don’t have a great job, work out, have hobbies and time for a social life. I’ve been like this since school where I wanted to stay busy all the time to stop myself getting bored and homesick at boarding school.

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

But it’s OK not to do everything. To say NO (politely). To put our physical and mental wellbeing first.

I’ve spoken before about how being on social media can exacerbate my anxiety, and the feeling like everyone is having more fun than me. After posting about it on Instagram (the irony of this is not lost on me) my old boss Karen commented saying ‘Likes will never make you happy, dear Charlie. Social media is fabulous for encouragement and inspiration (if you follow the right people!) but ‘likes’ will never give fulfilment. Only human contact, looking into someone’s eyes and face to face discussions, encouragement (and smiles) can ever do that. That’s my wise-old-bird thought for the day ☺️ x’

So from one social media addict to another (?!) let’s remember to step away from our devices and enjoy human interaction, even if it’s just time spent alone.

Go for a walk with your partner, head out for a run without any tech devices (even if you don’t share it online,  the run still happened!), curl up with a good book or watch a favourite film with a cup of tea.

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

Bupa looks at health and wellbeing wholly and believes that small acts like taking time out is vital for recovery and our ongoing general wellbeing.  It is also an opportunity to get help for any physical aches and pains, or chat about anything you’re concerned about (like the new mole I’ve discovered on my back!) For more information on Bupa pay as you go, visit www.bupa.co.uk/_payg

This collaboration couldn’t have come at a better time, after 2 marathons last week and with deadlines looming, it’s prompted me to start saying no, clearing my diary over the summer to give myself a proper break and prioritising the things that really matter; my health, my relationships and my studies. I love this blog and want to make it full of interesting, engaging content…but that also means sharing my real struggles and acknowledging when I can’t do it ALL.

Thanks for reading, now turn your device off, make a cup of tea and RELAX xxxx

The importance of switching off for a healthy life

18 Comments

  1. Chiswickmum
    5th May 2017 / 11:03 am

    And get that mole checked please. Xxx

  2. Florence
    5th May 2017 / 11:27 am

    Great post Charlie x

  3. Angela
    5th May 2017 / 12:27 pm

    I run with an ipod so I can leave my phone at home and not be bothered. I also never upload my runs onto social media but more so because I’d feel judged by everyone for doing it not because I don’t want to 😉

    Good luck for your exams!

  4. Hannah
    5th May 2017 / 12:45 pm

    From reading your blog (and others), it sounds as if all bloggers just do too much and don’t have down-time. Definitely agree you need to switch off a bit more for exams – you only get one shot at those!

    Good luck!

  5. Ana
    5th May 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Thanks Charlie! Enjoy your time off! 🙂

  6. 5th May 2017 / 3:22 pm

    I’m definitely guilty of this, and even guilty of trying to cram more in while also trying to be more mindful. Great reminder that sometimes we need to just turn it all off and enjoy life. Just because it doesn’t get shared doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

  7. 5th May 2017 / 3:50 pm

    all of us are so guilty of this…and i have had to force myself to stay away from social media + blogging to just reset and honestly, when i came back the world did not fall apart 🙂 thank you for sending reminder.

  8. saragiboney
    5th May 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Yes!! I’m also a go, go, go person. Between working full-time, running my health coaching business, blogging, teaching yoga and planning a wedding, I definitely feel like I’m “on” all the time.

    I started blocking out one evening a week for self-care. I don’t schedule any health coaching sessions and I say no to all social invitations. I just reconnect to myself and relax. It’s made a huge difference in my stress level, mindset and productivity.

  9. 5th May 2017 / 6:10 pm

    Great post! So true.
    And a small word of advice for your wedding planning: do NOT try to please everyone! It is your and your partner’s day — there is no need to cave to societal/familial expectations and doing so will only be more stressful. Sure, everyone ‘wants to help’, but ultimately you and your partner should do the wedding exactly how you want it and not how you think it ‘should’ be. I’m sure it will be lovely!

  10. Crazies follower
    5th May 2017 / 7:05 pm

    Does a G&T count? Perhaps if I have it in a tea cup….

  11. 6th May 2017 / 2:46 am

    I’m ALL about setting up an OOO for my blog email — one less stress to worry about while I’m traveling.

  12. Scandiscamperer
    6th May 2017 / 11:39 am

    Good for you for taking time out. Sometimes stopping really is harder than going.

    I am a very busy doctor. Like you, I’ve always packed so much into my schedule. It feels like the busier I get the more I take on. I am very proud of all that i achieve – running, socialising, working etc as should you be. That said, some of the people I admire most aren’t the busy. They’re the ones who know how to say no, how to be spontaneous and … how to relax. I used to find it hard to watch more that 15minutes of TV in a row feeling i was unproductive. I don’t know how this worked when i could tease, but above all, admire my sister for her ability to watch back to back boxsets.

    I have just changed rotation in my job and find myself with less on-calls and shorter hours. Although the work itself is demanding, I am lucky to be able to leave it in the office. I do not access work emails outside of the trust computers. I am also beginning to taper for Copenhagen marathon. With less hours working and running I was initially feeling very anxious about not being productive. I could sense myself desperately trying to fill my diary almost scared of weekends without plans.

    It hasn’t been easy but I’ve taken a deep breath and am challenging myself to embrace the free time. I’m currently involved in a UCL study looking at Instagram use and healthy eating. As part of the study we have to limit our daily instagram use to 15minutes. This has instantly cut down my social media time, I also no longer have the Facebook apps on my phone. I continue to love following my favourite blogs (like your own!) and do use my computer to relax. But I am reading and listening to podcasts so much more than I ever did before. For the first time I am reading medical-related books at home. I also always have an English and French novel on the go and some magazines and newspapers. I discussed with my colleagues how rewarding this has been and more fulfilling than looking at screens. One colleague suggested this was because it was still engaging my brain even though I am relaxing – when reading we have to work harder to imagine – we have to make up what characters, settings etc look and sound like – this is just a given on TV.

    I have also been walking as well as running (limiting my miles as I taper). Being outside is really refreshing and just goes to show you can get a buzz without all the pressure of pace/attending run club!
    Anyways I’m rambling. But what you say rings very true. Enjoy finding new ways to relax. & well done again for all the hard work you put in for Boston and London! xx

  13. Heidi
    8th May 2017 / 11:12 am

    Hilarious, even your post about switching off and being overwhelmed by how busy you are is sponsored. Can you see the irony???

    • charlotte
      8th May 2017 / 2:22 pm

      The irony is not lost on me – however it actually took Bupa approaching me to write about this that made me step back and realise just how overwhelmed I’ve been. Sadly with exams and deadlines in May I can’t fully switch off, but am looking forward to a real, unsponsored break in June on holiday with my friends. I do try to limit the number of sponsored posts I do and make sure that the ones I do accept are relevant and interesting, and the response to this post shows that it was!

  14. 8th May 2017 / 10:10 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. It’s definitely difficult to switch off when working on a new, challenging project in a small team. But luckily I work at a place where balance and health is super important – the perks of working in the fitness industry! Good luck with your exams.

  15. 9th May 2017 / 9:36 am

    Great post Charlie. Hubby (Father Fitness) was actually approached by Bupa to write a similar post. He took time out of our family holiday to write it as their deadline was tight – they sent the contract over after he wrote it. As he was writing for a competitor at the time, they couldn’t use his post. They never got back to him about reimbursing his time either. I’m sorry to write this on your page but I’m still so mad about it because he took time away from our family (while on holiday) to write it and the agency didn’t even have the courtesy to get back to him. I guess we all live and learn and he certainly won’t be making that mistake again! Now back to putting my feet up and relaxing, ha! Enjoy your week Charlie.

    • charlotte
      9th May 2017 / 9:44 am

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ve also been stung by contracts so now make sure I’ve seen the contract before writing the post. Hope you still enjoy your trip xxx