We’re wired to believe that staying productive is the norm, even when we’re not trying. Learn to unplug and truly do nothing.
When someone asks you: “What are you up to?”, how often do you respond with “Nothing!”?
And when find yourself saying it, how often are you really doing “nothing”?
We all know how to lay around, waste time, and truly do nothing. But many of us are simply too busy to do it much. When we do, our minds are often on other things, so it’s difficult to relax and enjoy the nothingness.
Learning to actually do nothing takes practice. When you learn how to do it, you can improve your life, melt away stress, and make yourself productive. Why?
Because doing nothing means you are living in the present.
Here’s how you can start.
1. START SMALL
Start with 5-10 minutes a day, in a safe place at home (and not at work). Find a place that is distraction-free where you won’t be bothered. Shut off all distractions– phone, TV, music, etc. Close your eyes and focus on doing nothing. Thoughts will come up– that you’re wasting time, and that you have a lot to check off on your to-do list. But just keep your eyes closed and focus on the weight of your body settling into your bed or chair. Notice the sounds in the room around you– the air conditioning humming, birds outside, the sound of your breath.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING
The first place to focus on is your breathing. Start first by slowly breathing in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, as it goes down into your lungs to fill them. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and the satisfying emptying of your lungs.
3. DO NOTHING IN NATURE
Find somewhere peaceful in nature that is close by. It can be your front yard, the park, the woods, beach, or river. Make sure the place is out of reach of traffic and city sounds. Nature allows us to really shut ourselves off from the stresses of life. Focus on the natural surroundings around you– look closely at the plants, water, sounds of the wildlife.
4. SAVOR YOUR FOOD & DO NOTHING
Sitting down to a good meal or a hot cup of coffee is the perfect time to do nothing. Focus on the liquid as you sip it slowly, savoring every bit of the flavor, texture, and temperature in your mouth. Truly enjoy this drink. You’ll start to notice that food tastes better when your attention is focused. You’ll eat less because you’re not distracted. You can actually learn to love healthy foods when you sit down and savor.
5. DO NOTHING IN YOUR DAILY LIFE
We can practice “doing nothing” while we are waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, or on a plane. The next time you are forced to wait for something, wait without checking your phone, growing your to-do list, or worrying about what you need to do later. Wait, and do nothing. Concentrate on your breathing. In the end, “doing nothing” is really just a sneaky way of practicing mindfulness and meditation.
Because when you are truly doing nothing, you are focusing on the present moment.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: LAURENT PEIGNAULT
Emily Weeks, RDN, LD is a nationally-recognized nutrition and culinary expert based in Fort Worth, TX. Emily believes the path to a nourished, happy life is to develop a healthy relationship with food, our minds and our bodies. She focuses on helping others achieve a life of balance and harmony through mindfulness and nourished bodies. Read more from Emily at Zen and Spice.