4 benefits of doing nothing
I could never properly rest. Even at times when my mind and body were screaming for respite I struggled to switch off. The wrestle was too great with the internal pull of unceasing productivity.
Even during my post-natal period when a nap is necessary self-care, as soon as the tiny head hit the mattress I would work. Despite terrifying levels of broken sleep I carried on, cleaning the bath tub or hoovering in what felt like lead lined shoes.
I wonder if I was waiting for permission? If it was a slip I had to write the wait would be long. We have all heard the saying to put our oxygen mask on first or you cannot pour from an empty cup. If your concern is the welfare of others, taking a break benefits everybody. What compels us to keep doing despite the obvious need for rest. We have developed this strange notion that progress relies entirely on unceasing action. We are compelled to fill every spare space on the blank page of our day. Being busy validates us, confers a usefulness and worth. I think we feel empowered in perpetual motion, an illusion of control whilst keeping our many plates spinning.
The benefits of non-doing
- There is a time for action and a time for not taking action. Some things simply need the gift of a pause and require nothing from you to ripen or mature. We can be so obliviously headed down the wrong road yet fail to see the truth in our desire to make the next thing happen.
- Answers can lie in the silence of introspection and observing. This requires us to be still and listen. Clarity is available in the non-doing if we choose to stop and hear the whispers and nudges. These are drowned out in the hubbub.
- The ‘waiting’ is a part of cycles reflected in nature. A necessary part of the overall process of creation. The changing seasons, gestation, pollination and growth. We cannot grow from a withered stem, a spent bud waits for further bloom, seeds germinate before pushing through the soil.
- There is a problem with viewing peak productivity as conducive to healthy growth and that is ill health. Without the necessary periods of rest we burn out. Experience symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and even panic attacks. The non-doing times are as important as the action taking and it has to balance to function well. Think of the yin and yang symbol, balancing both receiving and exertion.
Honouring the time for rest and reflection in life needs strong boundaries. Make others aware of the time you intend to jump off the treadmill. Carve out a space that is dedicated to relaxation without interruption, even if it is simply closing a door. Try to reduce the distraction of electronic devices during this period. Before you realise you are responding on social media or replying to an email.