For years we’ve been told that doing nothing is a waste of time. There’s always a more practical use of our time and energy. But what if the art of doing nothing actually was the practical decision? And I’m not talking about flicking on Netflix and scrolling your socials for 5 hours. I mean truly sitting and doing nothing. Just you and your thoughts.
I decided to try it for the first time this weekend after reading an article about the benefits of doing nothing. It was hard at first. Just sitting on my lounge and letting my thoughts run. It’s not even the attempt to meditate, or practice mindfulness. Just being alone and quiet with your thoughts can be intimidating and a little bit scary.
At first I had all the expected intrusions of questioning why I was doing it, or telling me to just pick up my phone. A few minutes on Instagram won’t hurt. But I stuck to it and let myself just think. No thought off limits.
I’m not just suggesting this because I want to do nothing and not feel guilty. It’s actually rooted in some pretty decent psychology. Psychologist Brooklyn Storme, from All Psyched Up! says that doing nothing can actually be pretty bloody healthy. She suggests that in our busy lives, in which we’re never really free from distraction, giving ourselves the time and permission to completely switch off can be key in avoiding the (somewhat inevitable) burnout.
Taking the time to stop and recharge your batteries can be incredibly cathartic. By allowing yourself to consciously do nothing, you’re freeing up your mind to run as wild as it wants. And there’s no one way to do it. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, giving yourself the chance to switch off is the important thing. As Storme says, “See at it as an investment in yourself and your wellbeing… It’s just got to feel right for you.”
The idea is that allowing yourself to truly do nothing and let your mind wander will help you to relax and clear your mind. It will also tap into your more creative side. In today’s world, we’re never truly bored anymore, so allowing yourself this time gives you the chance to totally switch off. Remember how good it used to feel just staring out the window and going blank in high school maths class? Why not get that feeling back as we’re stumbling through adulthood?
Look, before you completely dismiss me as a lazy fool, just give it a go. Try to find some time each day (preferably the same time) and spend that time just sitting quietly with yourself. No music, no phones, no podcasts. Just you and your thoughts.
It’s like meditation for the frazzled, and honestly, I’m a convert.