The Art of Doing Nothing

Do you have trouble switching off?  Is your downtime (what little you get) haunted by thoughts of your to-do list?  Have you ever sat down to do nothing but couldn’t stop thinking about what you should be doing?

Join the club!  There is so much to get done in the day or over the course of a week that we rarely have time just to do nothing.  And I mean really nothing…because as adults these days our ‘doing nothing’ still consists of something (and usually still multi-tasking) – watching TV while doing laundry, taking a walk while talking on the phone, etc.

If we are constantly ‘going and going’ without a real time of rest, our bodies gradually become exhausted, diminishing our health and breaking down our immune system.  Just as you exercise your body to achieve better health, taking a break to do nothing is another way of resting and recharging for the health of your mind and body and a perfect way to de-stress.  You don’t even need to take a whole day to do nothing, although that would be wonderful, just a 30 or 60 minute break will do wonders. You’ll walk away feeling refreshed and with enhanced clarity to continue on with your day.

This month I challenge you to make time once or twice a week to do ‘nothing.’  I know its going to be tough, after being surrounded by constant busyness all the time it’ll be hard to stop and just be idle.  Here’s a few tips to help you ’do nothing’ and enjoy it!

  • Banish the guilt.  No need to feel guilty for doing nothing!  Just remember that you’re taking a break for a short time for your health and then life will go on.


  • Pretend to meditate.  These days, meditation has become an accepted way of doing nothing.  Tell everyone you’re going to meditate then go into your bedroom, shut the door, and stare out the window or read or lie down for a half an hour.  You have excused yourself from household tasks and can indulge in contemplation, reflection, and that underrated pleasure, thinking, without fear of disapproval.

  • Gaze at the clouds.  Does your workplace have an outdoor area or a bench out on the sidewalk?  Go outside during your lunch break and look up at the sky…to watch the clouds.

  • Lie in a field.  Doing nothing is profoundly healing – to yourself and the planet.  Go to the park (or even in your own yard) and lie on your back in a field.  Listen to the birds and smell the grass.

  • Take a nap.  Take a “power nap” – the ‘acceptable’ form of a nap…afterward you can return  with more energy to keep tackling tasks.  Research has shown that a daily snooze can reduce the risk of a heart attack.  If curling up in your office isn’t an option, go somewhere quiet, like a church or a park bench, and close your eyes for even just five minutes.

  • Bring back Sundays.  Back in the day, religions and society in general, held Sunday as a day of rest.  But now Sundays are as busy and stress-filled as any other day.  Having a day of rest is a very practical idea:  we are excused from labor and devote ourselves to pleasure and family.  So get your family involved and declare Sunday as a day of rest – don’t clean the house or do the laundry – just spend time together enjoying each other.

So take on this challenge throughout the month to make time for ‘doing nothing’ and let me know how you feel afterward.  I guarantee you are going to feel refreshed and renewed – and your body is going to thank you for it.