For many of us, this is a time of year we actively seek out ways to effect change in our lives. Making resolutions and mapping out plans for the months ahead can help us step into the new year with a sense of purpose and determination.
Regardless of the time of year, setting goals and practicing healthy habits are important to our personal growth. But while we might resolve to travel more, spend less, study harder — all worthwhile endeavors – changing our behavior usually requires focused and consistent action on our part in order to be successful.
At a time when the many and varied impacts of the pandemic continue to dominate the news, one of the best ways to support our own health and efforts to effect change this year may actually be to commit to practicing the art of…doing nothing.
Despite research that underscores the benefits of doing nothing and taking time to simply “be,” there is often pressure to prioritize tasks that make us feel (or seem) more productive. Whether or not we’re aware of it, there can be a lot of guilt associated with allowing ourselves to enjoy the practice of idleness.
Although experts have warned for years of the detrimental effects of stress on our bodies, there are still many of us who find it difficult to step back when we begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Even as we’re learning how to better prioritize mental health in the face of pressure, there’s still a tendency to push ourselves to do more in order to meet the real or perceived expectations of those around us.
While it’s not always feasible to step away for hours on end with school, work, kids, or any number of other responsibilities that require our time and attention, it can be incredibly beneficial to set aside at least a few minutes a day to take a break from the noise, pressures, and distractions in our lives. Sometimes removing the burden of expectations and practicing separating ourselves from our stressors can help reinvigorate our lives in unexpected ways.
Fittingly, today marks the 48th anniversary of National Nothing Day, an “un-event” intended to give Americans a day where they can simply “be”, without having to celebrate, observe or honor anyone or anything. In acknowledgment of a day dedicated to nothing, consider making time to embrace the stillness and commit to “be” while doing nothing for a while.
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