LEARNING HOW TO DO NOTHING “can promote your mental health” to a higher and healthier level….and the first thing to pay attention to is how you feel and react to the IDEA of doing nothing. “I’d love to learn” is what I’m hoping for. However, the more stressed you are, the more likely your response will be things like: “That’s crazy”. “How boring” “I don’t have time”. “When would I do THAT?”
The more extroverted you are, the more likely you are to NOT be a person who does nothing once in a while…OR dismiss the idea as boring and a waste of time. And the more introverted you are, the more likely you are to be someone who does nothing periodically, even regularly, and knows and understands the wisdom of doing nothing.
If DOING NOTHING is confusing, let’s define it because there are multiple ways of doing nothing. In the most simple but effective form, it’s simply day dreaming. It’s that feeling you get from staring out the window or simply out into the distance and being unaware of the passage of time. Although I don’t recall the actual source of the research, I read many years ago that children allowed to day dream were happier people and more creative and successful academically. I believe day dreaming…..letting your mind wander wherever it goes….clears a space in your brain, relaxes you, and can be the source for an idea you’ve been hoping for.
If you get accustomed to just a few minutes of allowing your mind to wander with no purpose, no task in mind, it’s POSSIBLE you could imagine taking an entire day for yourself “with no agenda.” Okay, maybe start with half a day, even a couple of hours. The idea is to have no identified tasks..NO SET AGENDA…to see where your thoughts, your ideas, your “relaxed self” takes you when there is “not work to be done.” You can DO whatever feels or sounds good. The idea is no pre-set or “I HAVE TO” set of thoughts.
If the idea makes you feel a little anxious, pay attention. It’s not about making yourself uncomfortable or more stressed, but about checking yourself with regard to the PACE you have set for yourself on a regular basis….AND if it’s okay or not okay. Keep in mind that many people, and you could be one of them, are happiest when they are busy and active. And if that’s you and you know your stress level is normal, natural, and quite okay vs something to worry about……Consequently, just use these thoughts as reinforcements that you know what you are doing! And embrace and enjoy the pace, the way you do life. However, if you are stressed and know the level of your stress is creating challenges, then consider exploring the idea.
Many years ago I read an article by a successful business woman who described periodically taking a day off and simply staying in bed…doing WHATEVER appealed to her — from nothing like staring out the window to reading, watching movies, listening to music….just having NO SET LIST OF WHAT HAD TO BE DONE. She got up and prepared meals/snacks AND brought them back to bed. And she described taking such a day periodically to be both stress reducing and a source of creative thinking. I remembered the article during a period of high stress at work and tried it. And I highly recommend it! When I take a day like that for myself, even though staying in bed is a more intense version of doing nothing, I typically integrate a long walk and write in a journal and meditate. The issue is NOTHING SCHEDULED but allowing the activity to unfold because it feels relaxing and helpful.
Basically, you deserve to feel as good and productive as possible…..to reduce the unnecessary, unhealthy levels of stress in your life. And if you want to read more to analyze your stress, read my book, YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS. You can find it on my website. Drlindalmoore.com or on Amazon. And you can always ask me questions. So take good care of yourself, and if it appeals to you , even just a little, try a chunk of time doing NOTHING.