Thought Catalog
June 13, 2017

You Are Allowed To Sit Back And Relax

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What is the issue?
Unsplash / Dane Deaner

“It is no longer enough to have a couple days off at the weekend and sleep in, catch up on chores, do a bit of reading or internet working, and perhaps take the kids to the park or catch a movie. No, have a great weekend has become to the standard Friday evening send off.” –– Hugh McKay

I haven’t left the house all day. Not even to check the mail.

No doubt you will assume laziness on my part and I can accept your judgements because I’m confident I’ve done just enough with my day to not be deserving of that title (although I honestly can’t say the same can be said for other days).

Why the lack of external engagement? Well I recently came across the aptly coined term ‘The Art of Doing Nothing’ that may go some way to explain my current situation.

Doing nothing, very often in our busy work focused western culture, is often frowned upon. The consensus being we have our work days and we have our weekends — doing nothing can be preserved for those said weekend days.

The problem is that we then come across the term FOMO and the weekends are no longer allowed to be about doing nothing. In fact they must be even more packed than our working week, because #theyjustdo.

Even if our weekends were allowed to be about doing nothing, why must our ‘relaxing’ time be so designated?

Doing nothing is actually an event in and of itself. I can tell you from personal experience, that it is not as easy as one might think.

We are so ingrained with the idea of working or studying to set time frames, and the idea that we must constantly be doing something, looking busy, following a routine, adhering to the should and the must.

Our daily lives are so intensely entwined with our online lives that the concept of ‘doing nothing’ seems utterly unrealistic. In a world where being busy to the point of exhaustion is the status quo, taking the time to sit, and pay attention to nothing, is really actually quite a challenge.

‘The Art of Doing Nothing’ sees us not saving our entire nothing time to the weekends, but making use of it on a regular basis. Daily. Taking some small time to do nothing. Read perhaps, listen to music, take a walk, sit and stare out of the window, finally take a coffee at that cafe you keep passing or (my personal favorite) take a nap.

Recently I’ve found myself in a state of transition, one that I am ultimately not comfortable with. The expectations I have for myself and my perceived expectations that I think others have for myself, do not sit well with the art of doing nothing. Not one bit.

The interesting thing is, after taking much of the day forcing myself to do nothing, I do feel calmer.

I turned off my mobile phone and took my time over some chores, allowing my mind to wander, and then I took a long walk along the river.

The day has passed by quicker than expected and I find that some of the anxiety I’ve been battling with over work and studies is starting to waiver, or at least it’s starting to listen to some of my more logical reasoning.

With an increasing influx of all things mindfulness and relaxation based entering our media consciousness, sometimes it helps to just take stock of the basics. Like doing nothing.

Don’t think about your breathing, or what all your other senses are doing (although you can if you want, I’m not judging) — just allow a daily moment of nothing to creep in.

I’ll finish with this impeccably timed quote that’s filtered into my social media:

“There’ll always be something else. Another obstacle to overcome. That is life. But there’s more to living than conquering mountains and coming out victorious in every fight. Relax once in a while. Your success is meaningless without joy.” – Beau Taplin. TC mark