Let’s be real, we live in a hustle and grind culture. And hey, I get it. I’m all about working hard, getting creative, and executing new ideas. For me, because I love what I do, I can easily overwork myself without really realizing I’m even doing it.
While it’s easy to fall into the rhythm of society’s rat race to do more, be better, work harder- the truth is that there’s so much wisdom, healing, and learning that happens when we simply do…nothing.
Oftentimes, the art of slowing down is more challenging for people than jam packing their schedules with more to-do lists. I can definitely be one of those people. Doing feels more comfortable than being, because being means actually sitting with yourself- which can be scary! Especially if you’re new to all of this.
The reality is that the faster our lives become, the more we actually need to slow down. It sounds counterintuitive- like the more we have to do, the less time we have to unwind. However, like Ayurveda tells us:
Like attracts like, opposites balance.
This simply means that in order to balance any area of our life, we actually need to do the opposite of what we’re already doing, rather than more of the same. In this case, the more we add to our full plate, the less balanced we’ll feel. Whereas by carving time out to relax, rest, and reset- we strike a firmer balance, and cultivate more energy to do the things we need to do.
I know it might sound daunting, or even just plain boring, to slow down. Fear not, I’ve written up a sweet and simple post on all of my favorite ways to embrace the art of doing nothing into your day-to-day lives with a bit more ease.
How To Embrace Doing Nothing
Chances are doing nothing might not come easily to you. And that’s okay! Like any practice, it’s best to take it little by little, rather than trying to bite off more than you can chew.
Make small, attainable goals around moments of doing nothing in your day, so that you’re more likely to achieve them. This will help to build confidence, as you keep the promises you make to yourself. And, you’ll be able to cultivate consistency, which can help to actually make the practice a bit more concrete in your life.
Do your best not to feel guilty when you’re taking time to do nothing. Remember, while this slowness might not feel productive with all that you have to do in your busy life, it can actually help you show up with more creativity, energy, and presence for when you work long hours.
Set Specific Time For Doing Nothing
Most people who struggle to do nothing are the same people who love lists, organizing, and time management (hi, it’s me). Which means one of the best strategies for trying to do nothing every day is to actually schedule the time in.
Yes, I seriously mean put a block on your calendar if that’s what you need to do in order to stick to the commitment you’re making to yourself. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge chunk of time. Just carve out 5 – 15 minutes to rest and reset between meetings or calls. Or wake up a bit earlier than you normally do to have time with yourself in the morning.
You can set times for doing nothing in your day, your week, your month, or even your year. Look at your immediate schedule, as well as your schedule at large to have a good understanding of where to slow in relaxation times.
Learn more on how to budget your energy here.
Be Realistic About Your To-Do List
One of the most important things to remember when you’re scheduling your resting time is to actually look at your to-list and schedule clearly. Let’s not forget that we don’t want this time to do nothing to be something that will add stress to our plate. We want it to be something that will benefit us both mentally and physically.
That means you need to look at your to-list and schedule realistically in order to accurately schedule your time to do nothing. It’s also worth reminding you to keep small, attainable goals when scheduling. You can always build up once you’re in the swing of it.
Mindfulness is something you can start implementing right away, as it’s simply the act of observing. Notice your thoughts, your actions, your patterns from a place of non-judgment and non-attachment.
You can practice mindfulness in everyday activities like movement, eating, thinking, or being in relation with others. This is something you can practice mentally or physically, and a practice that will impact all areas of your life.
Being mindful means slowing down. Rather than reacting, you’re responding. You’re taking a beat, you’re being more present, and you’re able to experience your life more holistically.
Know When You Need To Take Time To Relax
When you practice mindfulness, you’re able to get to know yourself better. This means that you’re able to recognize when you’ll need time to relax before you get to the point of burning out.
Ideally, you’re able to schedule your doing nothing time in a way that aligns not only with your schedule. But also with your energy levels and personality. In order to do so effectively, you need to know yourself enough to know when those wind down times will suit your needs.
Now that you’re practicing mindfulness, you can also give meditation a go. Meditation doesn’t have to be some big fancy thing, it can be quite simple, really. Just get yourself into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and count your breath.
While meditation is traditionally done in stillness (seated, or lying down), you can also practice moving meditations. If you’re someone who has a hard time slowing down, moving meditations like yoga, surfing, or dancing might be a good option for you.
For heart focused moving meditation, check out this post.
Habit stacking is one of my favorite methods for getting in the habit of something new. While the art of doing nothing is meant to be less about doing, and more about being- it might be more easily attainable if you attach it to something you already need to do.
For instance, take your bath or shower time to unwind and be with your thoughts. Or how about your commute- rather than listening to a podcast or music, be with yourself in silence. This can be done in small moments of the day. Like when you make your tea or coffee in the morning. Or longer stretches of time, like a long drive.
Reduce Social Media Time
Social media is one of the greatest distractions infiltrating our daily lives. It’s so easy to think we’re jumping on for a quick second. And an hour later you’ve ended up in some weird rabbit hole that doesn’t even make sense.
Creating boundaries around social media has proven to dramatically assist my overall mental health, as well as slow down my tendency towards a racing mind. I’d strongly recommend staying off social media in the morning, so that you can start the day with your own thoughts.
I’d also recommend taking at least one full day off of social media every week. Ideally two days! But let’s just start with one 🙂
Having less information, noise, and opinions flying your way at all hours of the day will not only create more space in your day for you to actually schedule in doing nothing time, but it will also help to quiet your mind, and be with yourself more completely.
The art of doing nothing awaits.
You’ve got this, my friends.