Health & happiness

The power of doing nothing

We live in a very fast-paced world and most of us are busy all the time; with our jobs, families and social lives. This can result in stress and anxiety – which shows in the popularity of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Here’s why ‘doing nothing’ is so important to me.

I have to start this article by saying I don’t have children, so I understand ‘doing nothing’ is a lot easier for me compared to women who do have children. However, I work fulltime and drive an hour and a half to get to work, so I rarely get home before 7pm. Luckily I can work from home one or two days a week which really helps, but those days are just as busy as when I’m physically at work.

I think it’s important to make the distinction between boredom and doing nothing. I hate being bored. Boredom is a very negative feeling to me. I know there are people who are hardly ever bored and I admire those people. I feel like I get bored quite easily. I have learned though, to differentiate between doing nothing and being bored. Doing nothing is essential to recharge, while being bored means you’re not being challenged enough. I’ll be very happy if I never get bored again. Just wait until you have kids, I can hear you think…

Plan to do ‘nothing’

The first thing to keep in mind is that just like every other event in your life, you need to schedule ‘doing-nothing-time’. It isn’t something that will magically happen one day, especially if you live a very busy life. And don’t apologize for it – just because you have nothing planned on Saturday afternoon, doesn’t mean you need to fill it up with social events. You can easily fill it up with you-time and that’s just as important (if not more).

Second, doing nothing literally means doing nothing. It doesn’t mean catching up on those e-mails, calling old friends or finishing a project. It means taking the time to think, process and recharge (in that order). Listen to your favourite music, take a walk, go to the gym or catch up on reading some magazines. Whatever makes you happy and calms you down. You want to give your thoughts room to wander – without wandering to work-related issues!

Get excited!

What you’ll notice after an afternoon of doing nothing, is that your anxiety and stress will go down and if you’re lucky, boredom will creep in. I know that when that happens, I’m ready to start doing things again, whether it’s work or something social. I love the feeling of needing to go out or feeling excited to go to work. If you never stop, you may never have that feeling. You will just be on an endless ride of the same things, without ever stopping to enjoy what comes along. It’s so important to stop, because life will just fly by and you won’t enjoy it.

“Stop killing time, because time is killing you” – Paul Coelho

My interpretation of this quote is: take the time to enjoy your life, even the little things. Make sure to stop sometimes and try to look at your life as an outsider and be grateful for everything you have. Plan a few hours, every week if you can, to stand still, do nothing, just think. Enjoy who you are, where you are and how far you’ve come. And most importantly: be grateful. There are so many people that would love to have many of the things that you’ve got.

Emmelyn X

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