In our crazy, busy, always connected world is it ever okay to do nothing? As a matter of fact, when was the last time you did nothing? And by nothing, I don’t mean Facebooking or binging on the latest episodes of your favorite Netflix show…not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean just sitting or lying quietly and not doing anything. No checking the phone, social media, games, email, etc.
It seems kind of crazy that doing nothing is actually a skillset that many of us need to learn.
But think about it, there’s lots of value in doing nothing at all on a regular basis. If you’re the type of person who likes to continuously multitask, this will probably present a challenge to you, as well also for the person who can only focus with background noise and lots of craziness going on around them. If this is you, I’d encourage you to still give doing nothing a try.
If being in a quiet room by yourself doing nothing is an entirely new concept to you, start slow. Set a time to do it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day. Don’t stare at any electronic devices while you’re sitting there. Set an alarm on your phone or use a timer and then set it out of site. Trust in the fact that you’ll hear the alarm go off when your downtime is up.
You might be wondering is what exactly you should be doing while you’re sitting there doing nothing. It’s very simple…let your mind wander a bit. It will work out whatever it feels is most important. You don’t need to give the thoughts any direction, but if there’s something you’re struggling with, feel free to nudge your thoughts into that direction.
Don’t feel guilty what you’re thinking about and mulling over. This downtime is a time to relax and go where your thoughts take you. It’s as much to give your mind a much needed break as it is to encourage creative thinking.
If you feel so inclined, this isn’t a bad time to try meditation. This can be as simple as focusing on your breath, or meditating on a simple prayer like the Lord’s prayer or the Jesus prayer.
Now, this quiet time is probably going to feel a little strange at first and maybe even a little stressful. You might feel tempted to check your phone! If it’s that much of a struggle, leave the phone in the other room. But at the very least, silence it and lay it upside down so you can’t see or hear alerts pop up.
As time goes by you’ll begin to welcome this downtime. You can then start extending the time you spend each day in quiet free form exploration. Spend 20 or more just sitting quietly and thinking.
This quiet time will reap wonderful benefits. You’ll feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready to get on with the rest of your day. Think of it as a kind of siesta for your brain. Just remember that your mind never completely stops working.
When I take this “do nothing” breaks, I usually come out of them feeling a little more refreshed and ready for the rest of the day (admittedly coffee does help here!)
Remember, it’s perfectly okay to do nothing and it’s even okay to plan it into your day.