Let me start by admitting that I have done a lot of ‘nothing’ in the past few weeks. In fact, this is the most ‘nothing’ I have done in YEARS.
When my husband saw me writing on this topic, he jokingly asked if I was doing this to make myself feel better. You see, a few weeks ago I had been whining about being jobless and saying that I will go crazy just talking to my cat all day. So his question was valid.
However since then I have done a lot of reflection and this post is the outcome. I have actually seen and felt the improvements from ‘doing nothing’ in myself. So this is to share the benefits for those who may be hesitant to take a break.
Many of us feel like we have to constantly strive and struggle to lead productive and fulfilling lives. It may not be something we actively think about, but subconsciously the thought and expectation is there. We refer to relaxing days off as ‘lazy’ or ‘cheat’ days. This small negative connotation builds up over time to the point that we feel guilty for giving ourselves a break.
Social media is at the tip of our fingers and it only adds to this toxicity. Imagine finally getting a few minutes to spare during a busy day and you open Instagram just to see it plastered with motivational quotes telling you to ‘work harder’ and ‘hustle to achieve your goals’. We see our peers painting their perfect lives onto the screen and we believe that is what we have to compete with.
It all leads to one thought: I am not doing enough.
For clarification I do not mean it literally when I say ‘do nothing’. Of course doing nothing is not actually possible. We are always doing something, even if just breathing.
Doing nothing here means doing nothing purposeful or practically important to function in your daily life. People can ‘do nothing’ in different ways, whether it is by taking a nap, going for a stroll, doodling, watching YouTube videos of random stuff that people think you should not ‘waste your time’ on or literally just lying down and staring at the ceiling to unwind.
Time is precious and limited, so why should you spend that off day, that weekend, or those extra 15 minutes of your day ‘doing nothing’ with it?
- Provides clarity.
Leading busy lives with hectic schedules often clutters our brain. We forget what is truly important to us and start spending entire days worrying about small daily problems while losing sight of the bigger picture. Taking some time off to do nothing de-clutters your mind so you can focus on what is truly important (and this will be something different for all of us). It also gives you time to reflect on your life instead of just living it, which puts things into perspective.
- Revives passions.
Many of us have interests that we do not have the time to pursue. They fall to the back of our minds and we forget about them while living through the daily rut. Taking time off to do nothing may inspire you to get creative and pick up that hobby you dropped due to life stress. If you are working in any field such as writing or art, this may help work through that block and come back with some creative ideas.
- Leads to more self care.
We forget to take care of ourselves because we are so busy taking care of our finances, or our job, or our family. Whatever it is, something always seems more important than your physical being and your mental health. Doing nothing every once in a while can help create a much needed balance and it is a good reminder that ultimately your first priority is yourself. Only by taking good care of yourself can you take care of others.
- Rest for your brain.
How much rest does our brain really get on a regular day? Not enough. Many of us do not even get the required amount of sleep, specially on weekdays. Even though scientifically our brain is always active to some degree, we can give it a rest by napping or doing mundane mindless tasks that are relaxing. Personally I like shutting off and drawing. Some even choose to wash dishes – can’t relate, but something to consider!
- Recovery for your body.
Whether it’s because you have a physically active job, or the stress of life is affecting you physically, doing nothing can heal your body. At the peak of my work stress last year, I started having stomach problems which lasted several months. It was not until it got really bad and everything else was ruled out, that the doctor said it can only be due to stress. I could have avoided a lot of struggles by just admitting this and taking a break. Our bodies speak to us, we just have to listen.
I am grateful to have this time to ‘do nothing’ for a while. It has opened up so many closed doors for me. Doors that were closed by me because I was not taking the time for myself and my interests. Of course, taking time our to ‘do nothing’ is a lot more difficult if you are working full time, or a student or even a parent, but there are ways to carve out some time for yourself even if it is just a few minutes.
Fact is that not everyone has the luxury of living a life where they can actually drop all their responsibilities for a while and do nothing. So if you are in a position where you can give yourself some time, do it.
If your circumstances do not allow you to do so, at least try to do nothing for ten minutes a day and see how that makes you feel!