“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
~ Winnie-the-Pooh, fictional character created by A.A. Milne
I shot the video below four summers ago. The message it shares is as true now as it was then: once in awhile, we all need to embrace doing nothing. It’s particularly enjoyable during the lazy, hazy days of summer, but I’ll also suggest that because of how the pandemic has overturned so many aspects of our lives, choosing to stop and do nothing may be an important part of our sanity. Think about all you’ve had to do to pivot work, childcare, their schooling, how you socialize, how you grocery shop… everything. For me, it’s been endless and a bit exhausting.
It’s part of the reason I didn’t post last week, and why I’m re-booting a past video this week. I haven’t taken a real break since lock down began in mid-March, and if I’m honest, I’m a bit fried. The addition of a new puppy to the household has only added to the chaos (in a good way), and rather than fight it, I’m choosing instead to slow down a bit, and give myself permission to do nothing.
And I’m not talking about killing-6-hours-binge-watching-everything-on-Netflix-NOTHING, I’m talking about … NO. THING. You just twitched didn’t you. Well, what would nothing look like for you?
Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, share what your NOTHING would look like, and then carve out a bit of time this week to do just that.
For many of us, it’s a foreign concept ‘Nothing? What is this thing you speak of?’
Our days are jammed from first light to good night. Every moment is filled with meetings, emails, phone calls, driving here and there, groceries, house work, yard work … multi-tasking through life. And if we have a free moment, our phones keep us company. Down time gets distracted away by Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, in a frenzied effort to stay relevant, caught up, connected. Instead, we’re feeling frazzled and fried.
Which is why it’s so necessary to pause every now and then, to slow down, to do nothing in a bid to make sense of ‘busy’. Most of us are used to being in constant motion. We defer to ‘what’s next’ or to ‘what’s happening elsewhere’ All. Day. Long.
Doing nothing calms the mind and creates a sense of peace that brings about some pretty powerful benefits. And it’s not about being lazy or passive. It’s about getting comfortable with calm…and to completely enjoy and savour the moment…guilt-free. Doing nothing also helps you get clear.
If you’re always on the go, and always connected, your first efforts at nothing will feel awkward. Go with it! Sit for ten minutes. Slow down long enough to disconnect from ‘busy’ and just be. Long enough to get a bit uncomfortable. Bored even!
In the same way an uncomfortable yoga pose can lead to more flexibility, the discomfort of boredom can enhance creative thinking. Yes, there are scientific benefits to being bored! In a 2014 U.K. study, people who were bored before solving a problem, generally had more creative solutions. Need more scientific benefits of slowing the heck down? Watch video #14 – A Parasympathetic Pause to be reminded!
And then breathe. Breathe in silence and allow your head and heart to talk to you without all the noise of stress drowning out what’s really important. When I sit and breathe in silence, it grounds me, and I’m rarely thinking about TV programs or social media or what I should be doing around the house. My mind usually wanders toward how I feel, the health I want to create for myself, the creative things I want to tackle in my business, the way I want to ‘be’ as a person, the things I want to do that fulfill me. Powerful stuff.
Breathe quietly & allow your head & heart to talk to you without the noise of stress drowning out what’s really important.
And I get that it’s not always easy to do nothing. So I’m going to share a few more ways that you can disconnect from ‘busy’ and practice ‘nothing’:
First off, GET RID OF THE GUILT. Busy is not a badge of honour. Instead of measuring success by the quantity of tasks you accomplish in a day, be in the moment and focus on quality. I’m talking 10 minutes here people. Not ten hours.
Disconnect! Getting lost online can drain your energy, and hours on social media is a waste of time. If disconnecting for a day makes you twitchy, start in small doses. Turn your devices off an hour earlier each night, go tech free Saturday til noon and during your breaks at work, or have breakfast without staring at your iPad.
Turn off your TV. Sure TV can be an escape from stress, but too much of it robs you of time, energy and the chance to explore …nothing. Give up TV for an hour and replace it with a walk around the neighborhood. Fresh air and connecting with nature. Nothing better.
Take a nap. A daily snooze can reduce the risk of heart attack and lower stress levels. Nap at your desk or on the sofa (why not?). OR go to a quiet park and close your eyes, listen to the birds and smell the grass…for a quiet intermission of nothing…in nature.
Leave the chores. You don’t have to load the dishwasher the minute everyone is done eating. YOU DON’T. The world will not stop spinning if laundry folding waits. Sit, relax a moment or two. Do NOTHING. And don’t overthink it.
Morning is the easiest time to do nothing. The world is quiet, most people are still asleep, and your mind hasn’t yet fully latched on to all the busy stuff that comes with a normal day. So before that happens, take 10 morning minutes for sacred do-nothing-time. The pause may come at the expense of a bit more productivity, but the clarity you gain will be worth it.
Try these three simple steps.
- Sit down 2. Breathe 3. Repeat #2
And for those few blissful minutes, luxuriate in the awesomeness of doing…NOTHING.
Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg helping you transform your work and life, one recharge at a time.
Hey, I’m presenting online these days, and it’s not only fun, it’s pretty darn effective. If your organization needs a break from the work-from-home routine to learn how to boost resilience, work-life balance and productivity, reach out to me to chat about my engaging online sessions!