Talk to anyone these days and they’ll tell you they’re busy. Juggling multiple jobs, obligations, a full social calendar, school, etc. Everyone is busy. So busy, in fact, they don’t have time for anything else. At least it feels that way sometimes. What happened to relaxing and living slowly? What happened to doing nothing? Lately I’ve been taking a step back and re-evaluating my calendar. What I realized is I tend to say “yes” blindly to many things and end up with a calendar that is too full and overwhelming. The result? Event burn out (I’m claiming it’s a real thing!) or cancellations. Either way, it’s no bueno. I’m now convinced a balanced calendar of work + play combined with enough time to actually do nothing is what I need to recharge and stay sane. I’m fully committed to mastering the art of doing nothing.
Ever read the book or see the movie Eat Pray Love? If you haven’t, I recommend it! If nothing else, you will drool over the food in Italy and want to escape to Bali immediately to find your center. The point is, sometimes escaping the day to day and having no agenda is what we need to feel good again! Life can be stressful, we all could use a deep breath and some time doing absolutely nothing every now and then.
I’ve read that one habit successful people exercise is saying “no” to anything that does not move them closer to their goals. That isn’t to say they’re doing nothing – they’re incredibly busy people! But they know when to say no to non-essential activities and focus on only the things that matter. Prioritization is key!
Right now I am really focused on prioritizing “me” time and trying to make time every week to do absolutely nothing. No work, no errands, no obligations. It isn’t always easy when you get antsy quickly or have a to-do list in your head that is a mile long. But after some practice, meditation, and lots of yoga I’m convinced it’s one of the most important things you can do.
The phrase dolce far niente, or “sweet to do nothing” comes to mind. Beyond being poetic AF, it’s actually an important life lesson we could all learn. According to the dictionary, the phrase means pleasant idleness. Now isn’t that a novel concept? Being idle is so often labelled as BAD, and being busy is GOOD. But if the Italians are on to something here (and I think they are), could it be true? Can being idle be pleasant and productive? Could there be benefits to doing nothing?
How to Do Nothing
Stop doing things you don’t want to do.
Obviously, there are some things in life you can’t escape. You have show up to work, pay the bills, etc. I’m not saying go rogue and make it a free for all. But if there are things you truly don’t want to do, it’s okay to say no! I never understand for the life of me why people do things they don’t want to do and proceed to complain about it. Guess what? It’s most likely in your control – and all you have to do is say no.
Ask yourself: “What do I want to do right now?”
How often do we practice this exercise? It’s so simple, yet so difficult to do. For the longest time I was the biggest people pleaser – always thinking about other people and putting their needs above my own. I’d get sick all the time and never knew why. Once I started listening to my body and staying in when I needed to, going to sleep early, skipping workouts when I felt a tickle in my throat, I started getting sick less and recovering more quickly. I still have to remind myself, but on weekends I try to give myself at least a couple hours, if not a full day, of asking myself what I want to do. Some days it’s being out and about, other days it’s staying in to cuddle my dog and read a book.
Stop feeling guilty.
Stop feeling guilty for saying no. Your physical, emotional, and mental health is the most important thing. Your body and mind is the most important possession you own. You only have one body and it’s no good if you’re burnt out and run into the ground! Giving yourself an opportunity to rest and do what you want to do will make you a better family member, friend, coworker, etc. Those around you will be getting a better version of you, which benefits everyone! When you do nothing, you might also find that some things you viewed as “essential” actually are not. The world will go on, people will continue living their lives, and you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Do as the Italians do.
Drink wine with your meal, eat dessert, cook something special. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and food is part of that! Our relationships with food are often complicated – a post for another time – but savoring the little moments and enjoying a good meal are easy ways to get into the lifestyle of dolce far niente.
Turn off the social media, your TV, and a ll the other distractions in your life. Going into nature is optional but highly recommend. Trust me, your Instagram feed can wait. My goal is to have one day a week where I unplug and do nothing – that’s what Sundays are for, right?
The Benefits Of Taking Time For Yourself:
Doing nothing can go against your personality or current lifestyle. But I’ve found that even a day of doing nothing every other week has had tremendous benefits for my mind and body. I feel more refreshed on Mondays and ready to take on the week. I find myself recovering more quickly from tough workouts. My mind is buzzing with creative energy which is perfect for my work and blog. I sleep better, eat better, have fewer food cravings, feel calmer and more at peace in general.
I’m a huge believer in mind body connection. This is a principal I grew learning from my mother and have explored more as I get older. I don’t know about you, but I would rather take small breaks every now and then and prevent burn out from happening in advance. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can be easy to try to take on more or get more done. My mom always tells me to relax and make time for myself – she’s seen me at my worst and most stressed, and what do you know? Moms are always right. They always know best! She’s been telling me to take time to do nothing for years, and I’m only now just starting to listen to her (sorry, mom!).
All right, I’m off to Palm Springs for the weekend… to try to do exactly this! My boyfriend and I are staying at the Parker (our favorite hotel) for a quiet weekend away from LA to do nothing. Hope you’re able to do the same this weekend!