Learn more about SCL Health's Integrative Medicine Services and Treatments.
How often do you do nothing? Really nothing. Like the “just sitting on the couch and staring off into space, alone with your thoughts” kind of nothing. Completely free from distractions. If you’re anything like the average person today, you’re probably thinking “rarely” or even more likely, “never.”
In today’s world, we’re accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We gladly take the time to charge our phone’s battery, but disregard recharging our own. The second boredom strikes, we pick up our phones and scroll through social media or turn on the TV and start binge-watching a show we’ve already seen. Doing nothing has become a thing of the past, which means people are experiencing burnout at record-breaking speeds.
You might be surprised to find that there are actual benefits of doing absolutely nothing. When you turn off all distractions, it allows space for your subconscious to expand, ultimately boosting your creativity. When distracted, our mind jumps to the most obvious answers when trying to solve problems. But once you take the time to exhaust those options, you end up thinking of breakthrough, inventive answers that can lead to some life-changing ideas.
Boredom also lets you know when something is wrong. When you’re constantly buzzing around, checking off your to-do list, it’s easy to ignore emotions and miss out on what that inner voice is trying to tell you. But when you start to quiet your mind and your surroundings, you can start to feel those gut feelings coming to the surface, ultimately motivating you to make changes that better your life.
Probably most surprising, doing nothing can even help you to be kinder. Being alone with our thoughts makes us long for a larger sense of purpose, prompting us to try challenging and meaningful activities that extend beyond our own lives.
Even after reading about the many benefits of doing nothing, you might be thinking, “but I need to be productive at all times.” This is especially the case for women. It might feel weird to sit on the couch while there are dishes in the sink, but this can be fixed with a change of mindset. Instead of seeing it as “not being productive,” think of it as investing in your own wellbeing. Because that’s exactly what it is.
You also don’t need to suddenly fit in an hour of doing nothing into your day. Start with five minutes at the same time each day. If your mind starts to turn to that email you forgot to send or your breathing starts to get ragged, don’t worry. All these reactions are normal and will fade over time. Suddenly after a week or so, doing nothing will become something you look forward to. Yes, really.
So today, go ahead and do something for yourself: Do nothing. It might just be everything you were looking for.
Looking for more ways to practice mindfulness? Try these tips!