When was the last time you did nothing?
And I mean truly nothing - not Netflix, not scrolling through your news feeds, not even reading a book. Just sitting there, thinking.
We are so used to doing a million different things at once. Even when we think we are focusing on one thing, chances are we’re not. When was the last time you watched even an episode on TV without checking your phone, or getting up to “do” something? And we wonder why we feel constantly stressed…
Why we find it so hard to do nothing
We live in a society that constantly drives us to multitask.
We are actually rewarded for our ability to do mutliple things at once. We believe that being productive equals success in all areas of our life. That not “doing” means we’re failing, or lazy, or falling behind.
The desire to be constantly productive becomes an addiction. It releases dopamine, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure. And actually sets you up to try and do more. But this isn’t your natural state. You’re literally working yourself into a frenzy.
And it’s not sustainable. Too much and we hit burn out.
Why this means we need to do nothing even more
The more we multitask, the more we lose the ability to do nothing.
Or even focus on one task. If we are constantly multitasking and driving ourselves to be productive, we get caught up in the cycle. We need to find a way to break this cycle.
In the long term we will end up being less productive. We lose our ability to think clearly. We get physically tired. We rely on the addictive cycle of “doing” (and coffee!). Sound familiar?
The benefits of doing nothing
There are countless scientific and psychological studies on the benefits of doing nothing. Not only are we breaking the dangerous cycle of being addicted to productivity, but doing nothing means:
The ability for the brain to function better
Ability to focus
Clarity in thinking
Being able to put things in perspective
Benefits to your physical body
Increased immune function
Lower blood pressure
Lower heart rate
Benefits to your general self
Feeling of calmness
Connection with yourself and your surroundings
How to do nothing
It may seem ironic that this is even a topic.
But do we actually know how to do nothing? To really switch off?
Switching off is a good starting point - take yourself away from all your electronics. Ideally switch them off. This goes for other distractions too (including people!). Tell them you don’t want to be disturbed. Move, or move yourself away from, any other distractions.
Put yourself in a happy spot. Whether this is your favourite chair at home. A park. The beach. A bath. Put yourself there, and make it comfortable.
Don’t stress about doing nothing. Remember you have chosen to give yourself this time.
Stick with it. You may find it difficult the first few times. You may feel like you’re not seeing any of the benefits above. But over time, you will. And remember, you’re only doing it for yourself.
You will thank you later!