Happiness,  Health

Do Nothing

In a few short days my life is about to get extremely busy. While I would like to say that I am approaching the busiest I’ve ever been, thanks to the minimalist practice of eliminating the unimportant this would be a lie, so I refuse to mislead you.

Regardless of the exact details, the truth is that I have undertaken a course of action that will occupy a significant portion of my time for the next several years. At the end of this journey I will have achieved my life-long goal of graduating college so I consider the effort worthwhile.

It would be easy to fill the days leading up to my term. I’ve a house to maintain, a book to write, a blog to maintain, and a myriad of other items I would like to accomplish before I start this adventure.

Instead, I scheduled a day to do absolutely nothing.

The act of doing nothing can be immensely beneficial. It allows us to refresh both mind and body, recharging us so that we can regain the energy we need to keep moving closer to our goals. While you may not be able to do this very often, schedule at least one day a month to do nothing. One day a week is ideal but in this modern age that can be difficult to achieve. If you have children to care for you may not be able to spend the entire day relaxing (children need both food and supervision) unless you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who will watch over them while you rest. If you don’t have someone who can watch them, take them to the park. They get to play and have fun while you sit on the sidelines and relax. It won’t be perfect but it will be better than nothing. I used to take my Katie to the local parks on a regular basis in order to recharge.

When you institute a day of doing nothing into your schedule you will discover that you feel better and have more energy. Your mind will be clearer and the tension you didn’t realize you were hoarding in your muscles will ease. Your immune system will improve so you will fall prey to illness less frequently. This will result in you having to take less time off of work or reduce the times you have to work while ill.

I highly recommend it.

How to Do Nothing

Schedule a day off from work (you can use your normal day off to do this). Warn your family and friends in advance since they might become concerned if you don’t respond to their calls or messages and wonder if you are feeling ill when you don’t climb out of bed first thing in the morning. The goal is to reduce stress, not exacerbate it with the frantic concern of others.

If you don’t feel that those around you would understand you can use the Stealth Method: tell everyone that on this certain day you will be immersed in a project and unavailable. This is the method I personally use. Since I have a habit of limiting my daily communication when I’m immersed in a writing project they don’t think to question when I announce that I’m scheduling an entire day for this.

Turn off your alarm clock the night before. Put your phone on silent or turn it off entirely. Mute all notifications from Messenger apps that you have on any of your devices (computers too). You can completely disconnect your Internet if you don’t use it to stream music as well, but this is not required if you mute all of your notifications.

Right before you go to bed the night before, take a long bath or shower (your preference). Dress in something comfortable that you can lounge around your home in the next day. Light some comforting incense, turn on some soft music (I recommend Weightless by Marconi Union), and go to sleep.

When you wake up do not hop out of bed immediately. Just lie there and relax. Note any thoughts that travel through your brain but don’t act on them. Just let them flow. If you find any of your thoughts creating stress, focus on your breathing as you think about how nice it feels to rest. You have nothing to do today so just be.

In time you will find yourself growing restless. You will have to use the bathroom or will want a cup of coffee. This is perfectly normal. Your body is accustomed to constantly rushing so it won’t be used to taking a vacation. Get up, do those simple tasks, then curl up in a comfortable chair or go back to bed.

Ignore the dirty dishes. The world is not going to end if you skip them for a day. Just stretch out and savor the luxury of not having to do anything for a change.

While it is perfectly acceptable to read during this time, resist the temptation to turn on the television. The last thing you want is to waste your day of rest on mindless drivel designed to sell you something by making you feel inferior. That said; do not read anything related to your daily life. Read something soothing, inspirational, or completely fictitious.

Take deep breaths and long naps. You may discover that the only thing you want to do is sleep and that’s okay. In fact, chances are high that the first few times you do nothing that your body will demand it. As a whole we push our bodies hard and rarely give them sufficient time to recharge, so ignore the voice in your head that tells you that you need to get things done.

Give your body what it needs instead.

Do not go shopping with your friends. Reschedule your Tinder date. Skip the coffee shop latte. Just stay home, relax, and do nothing.

At the end of the day turn your alarm back on but don’t bother with your phone or your notifications. You can restore those settings tomorrow when you rejoin the chaos.

After you schedule your first day of doing nothing, send this post to your one friend who works far too hard. Tell them that the world will not end if they take one day to care for themselves for a change. If that person is a single parent, volunteer to watch their children during the time. If you are both single parents, offer to take turns so you both can rest.

Above all, remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one will.

Wishing you peace and happiness,
Annie

4 Comments

  • Carolina

    Dear Annie,

    Hope you had a wonderful, relaxing day:)

    And as for college: hurray!! Yes, It’s a lot of work, but worth the while. Millions have done it, and so can you!
    As always- I am rooting for you.

    Good luck luv,
    Carolina

    • Annie

      Thanks, Carolina! I’m parts excited and terrified. Even with the emotional overload, I feel more alive than I have in a long time. I intend to enjoy this!

  • Sally Reinhardt

    Thank goodness I am not the only one who thinks this is an excellent idea and I do it once a week.