Most of us spend our days running from one thing to the next. Work, kids, friends, volunteering, extended family, shopping..…the list goes on and on. It seems there is an endless stream of things to occupy our time. Then, add in all the distractions that are available to us: movies, tv, special events, news, social media, sports, etc. We live in a society of constant stimulation. All day we are bombarded with things to do, commitments, responsibilities, distractions, its not surprising that most of us feel stretched to our limit, and just plain exhausted. Add in any life challenge and we’re looking at full scale catastrophe.
Some stress is good. But once it reaches a chronic stage, it becomes damaging to the body. The body’s main stress response comes in the form of adrenaline or cortisol, which can reveal itself in the way of unexplained weight gain, depression, and a decreased immune system, to name a few. Long term, our bodies begin to break down and we could be looking at developing chronic disease that may be difficult to reverse.
And let’s face it, when you’re running around from one thing to the next, are you really being present to the experience at hand? Are you showing up for your partner fully? Are you truly listening to your friend who needs a shoulder? Are you giving your full attention to your job, your child, yourself? Many of us are living on auto-pilot, trying to check off all the things on our lists, but not really engaging in life. This can end up feeling unfulfilling, as what we truly want is to fully experience life in all its glory.
So, what can we do to alleviate this situation? Turns out, you don’t have to DO anything.
There is a powerful simplicity to doing nothing. And when I say do nothing, I mean something as easy as sitting down in a quiet area and just breathing. You could go for a slow stroll, do yoga, meditate, take a bath. Something quiet that allows you time to slow down. This has several benefits:
First of all, it immediately brings your heart rate and blood pressure down, which is always a good thing. Second, when we give ourselves time to slow down, be quiet, and literally do nothing we allow our mind to stop the relentless hamster wheel we can get stuck on. We can focus better on ourselves.
What do you need in this moment? What do you want in this moment? With all the hustle and bustle of life, it can be difficult to stay in touch with what we truly need and want. Nonetheless, knowing what we need and want can prove critical to our appreciation of life. It allows you to live authentically, and to truly connect with people. Not to mention, the better we take care of ourselves, the more equipped and willing we are to take care of others.
Doing nothing also gives you an opportunity to take back your attention. With all the demands for our attention out there, it can be difficult to hold firm on your goals in life. When you take time to be still, you can reclaim your attention and then aim it intentionally at the things that help you forward your dreams.
Our society is very ‘busy’ as a whole. So much so, that we now equate busy-ness with getting things done. We think if we appear busy, running all over the place, we are being effective. In fact, the opposite it usually true. We become scattered and lack the intention of doing what really matters. Its no wonder why years can literally go by and we just haven’t had time to finish that degree, or teach our kids to cook a family recipe, or start that new business. When we take time to do nothing, we can more easily strip away the fluff, discern what is important, and intentionally focus on that.
The beautiful nuances of life are there for us, it just takes a bit of practice and a stillness of mind in order to notice.