4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing

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4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

Hello Lovelies:

“If you ever ask an adult what they did over the weekend and they say they didn’t do anything their faces light up!” – John Mulaney, New In Town

Hands up if you get the “I did nothing” glow too! I know I do. John Mulaney is right on the money. It feels so flipping good to have a few moments (or a full weekend) of nothing.

But it’s super hard to set time aside for a little nothing because we always have so much to do. And hitting pause can create a ton of guilt because we’re being unproductive. When we aren’t doing anything important are we wasting our time?

Heck no sweet friends! Making time to do nothing actually makes you way better at getting things done. And supports your mental health too. It’s a magical addition to your self-care routine!

Everyone benefits when you allow yourself to relax and unwind. So if you find yourself feeling “nothing guilt”, or simply need a powerful reminder to take a little extra time for yourself, this post if for you!

Let’s talk about why you should make more time to do nada and all the goodness you have to gain from it!

Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in the middle of a never ending to-do list? Because I know I’ve been there! There are always a million things that need to be done. Many of us work our booties off all day only to come home and work even more. But how often do you sit back and literally do nothing?

Even in our free time, we often fill the void with other activities… from checking e-mails, to returning texts and phone calls, to doing all of those chores that seriously seem to never end.

Doing nothing can truly leave us feeling guilty. But if there’s one thing you add to your self-care routine it definitely needs to be time to do nothing.

I promise that it’s anything but a waste of time. And it won’t be boring (doing nothing doesn’t mean you have to sit and stare at a wall, you have my word!)

Here are 4 awesome benefits to moments of nothing and a few ways to work that into your routine:

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

1. Your Brain Really Needs A Break

We are all pretty overstimulated in this day and age. We might as well be existing in a perpetual state of informational overload. In fact, a 2010 survey by LexisNexis discovered that many of us spend more than half of our work days simply receiving and digesting information.

Add on the duties and expectations that we need to cram in there somewhere, and all of the other to-dos we have on our lists, and it’s pretty clear that we rarely take a mental break. 

Even when we’re on vacation, many of us are in the habit of taking work home and checking our e-mails.

Basically, we’re almost always on. Making decisions and judgements calls and getting stuff done. But our brains are dying for a little free time. And there are consequences when we don’t allow for that.

Have you ever heard of decision fatigue? Making tons of decisions and judgement calls throughout the day can actually wear away at our willpower and mess with our ability to make decisions.

Sounds bonkers, right? But it happens to the best of us! In fact, this study found that judges were more likely to grant a prisoner parole after they had taken a break. The longer they had been working the more likely they were to simply say no. Keeping things the same is the easiest and safest route. Decision fatigue tends to push our choices in that direction.

But instead of pushing our brains to the point where they can’t easily weight pros and cons and make decisions, we should instead say YES to breaks. A little nothing does the mind good!

2. Doing Nothing Allows Us to Reconnect with Ourselves

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

From a young age, we’re taught to keep busy. If we aren’t doing something productive, it’s easy to feel guilty and irresponsible. But busy-fever doesn’t do us any good either. Not only does a state of constant busyness increase our risk of burnout, it limits our chances to connect with ourselves.

When you make time to do nothing, you have the opportunity reflect and examine your thoughts and emotions.

Periods of mindfulness allow us to truly get to know ourselves and our emotional state, which may even help to improve our mental health. While more studies are certainly needed, mindfulness has shown that it helps to relieve stress, anxiety and depression (source).

Not to mention, making time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings and emotions and truly getting to know yourself is so important. Self-love is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Developing a kind and loving relationship with yourself is never a bad thing.

When you know and love yourself you take care of yourself. You make decisions from a place of love and respect for yourself. And you treat yourself with kindness. Any opportunity to further connect with yourself is amazing.

So let’s hurry up and do nothing baby! We’ve got nothing to lose and tons to gain!

Related: Stressed? Prevent Burnout Syndrome With These 3 Simple Tips

3. Your Attention Span Will Thank You

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

While it might seem silly to say, making time to do nothing a priority actually helps to replenish our attention span. And when you really take the time to think about it, it all starts to make sense.

How often are you in a state of multitasking? Reading these e-mails, finishing that report, getting ready for this meeting, thinking about tonight’s supper and the dishes that won’t clean themselves… We’re often in a position where our minds need to wander from thought to thought, task to task, with very little rest in between. But that doesn’t exactly create focus – which is terrible for our attention spans.

When you make time to disconnect and give your brain a break from it’s daily thought marathon you actually come out more attentive and productive.

For example, two 2007 studies showed that those who learned how to meditate had better working memories and attention spans than those who didn’t while writing a test (source 1source 2). And they even outperformed their non-meditating counterparts.

Why? Because the opportunity to do nothing productive and give their minds a break actually helped them to become more focused, which allowed for better concentration and memory retention. Pretty cool eh?

Learning to unplug and be mindful boosts your performance, which is really an awesome win! And when you know that taking the time to relax actually makes you more productive, you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Related: Want To Stop Procrastinating? You shouldn’t! Here’s Why…

4. It Breeds Creativity

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

You know what happens when you do nothing? Tons of uninterrupted free thinking! And that might as well be creativity fuel. Why? Because it gives our thoughts an opportunity to wander freely and our minds the opportunity to imagine.

In his paper Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom, Manfred Kets De Vries, a Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change, states that:

“Doing nothing is a great way to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination… seemingly inactive states of mind can be an incubation period for future bursts of creativity.”

Quiet time gives rise to ideas. You can’t be creative when you’re constantly focused on absorbing information and completing a list of tasks. So take a step back and let your brain rest. You never know what wonderful things it might come up with.

Related: 5 Goal Setting Tips That Will Help You Achieve Your Dreams In A Healthy Way

So What Exactly Should You Do When You “Do Nothing”?

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing | Downtime can be one of the best self care activities. If you're looking for ways to relax, how to reduce stress, boost your creativity, improve your focus and productivity and build a healthy lifestyle full of self love, then this post is for you! Includes a free self care planner! Woohoo! Click through for the post. #selfcaretips #stressrelievingactivities #selfcareideas #mentalhealth

It’s not going to be boring, I promise. Making time to do nothing doesn’t mean that you have to sit there staring to at the ceiling while twiddling your thumbs. It’s more about doing nothing useful or important. We’re talking about idle time savouring the moment and focusing on simple things that relax you and bring you joy.

You need to disconnect and relax, so whatever works for you is wonderful.

  • Put away your computer
  • Get out in nature
  • Practice mindfulness meditation
  • Take a long bath
  • Daydream
  • Colour or doodle
  • Get lost in a good book
  • Write in a journal
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a nap
  • Play a video game

Honestly, the options are endless (see – doing nothing is far more entertaining that it sounds!) What matters is that you choose to do something that you find relaxing. And that you don’t feel the need to be productive.

And, of course, it’s all about balance! But most of us have being busy down pat. It’s time to focus on learning how not to be busy. And making time to do nothing a priority is a really awesome place to start.

If you find yourself feeling stressed out and unsure of how to make self-care and relaxation a priority, talking to a therapist might help. Not sure how to find a therapist near you? Check out this incredibly useful article by BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

To add to the goodness, here’s a free self care planner – let’s make self care a priority, because you deserve it. You can download it right here or by filling out the form below.

Do you make time to do nothing a priority? What are your favourite ways to unwind? Let me know in the comments below!

Health and love,

sara-signature

Thought of the day: I give myself permission to simply rest and be. I am allowed to be unproductive.

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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.

62 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ngumabi

    August 16, 2017

    I am so adding this to my to do list
    Even when I find time for myself, I plan to do something. But doing nothing sometimes really helps to take a real break
    Thanks for this great post

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 16, 2017

      You aren’t alone! I think we all have busy fever 😊. But making time for nothing sometimes can definitely do wonders. I hope you love it. 💖

  2. Reply

    Cassie | White Sands and Cool Breezes

    August 16, 2017

    Yes! I definitely do 🙂 Being outside is probably my favorite way to unwind.

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 18, 2017

      That’s such a wonderful way to unwind Cassie! I totally agree. A nice walk outside or just sitting out in the sun can be so relaxing and uplifting. It’s one of my favourite things too. I hope you got to spend plenty of time in the great outdoors today. 🙂

  3. Reply

    Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    August 17, 2017

    Ha, that makes so much sense. Now I understand why I am always overwhlemed and do not feel satisfied even when I strike of things from my to do list.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 18, 2017

      I can definitely relate Gayathri! There are times when I forget to make time to do nothing and find myself feeling overwhelmed too. Remembering to allow myself some time to relax and simply be makes all the difference. I hope that you give it a try and find it helps too! <3

  4. Reply

    Briana

    August 19, 2017

    Amazing information and advice! As humans, doing nothing is SO hard to do but this really puts it into perspective as to why that is important.

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 20, 2017

      Absolutely Briana! It’s definitely so hard; we all seem to have a never ending to do list. I know I struggle with this sometimes too. I hope that you have the chance to do nothing and relax today! 😊

  5. Reply

    imthatamberlynn

    August 19, 2017

    I love this! This sums up perfectly why I find it difficult to do nothing. Even on my days off, I find myself keeping busy with blogging, cleaning out my emails, doing school work, or anything else that I can do to keep myself busy. I need to really take one day to turn off my emails, shut down my laptop, and just read a book. Reading always helps to clear my mind, relax, and takes me somewhere outside of where I am. This post is just what I needed.

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 20, 2017

      Oh my goodness Amber Lynn, I can definitely relate. As bloggers, we can easily work 24/7! I sometimes have trouble making time to do nothing too. But I do my best to make it a priority. And reading is one of my go tos too! It’s wonderful to disappear into another world!

      I’m so glad this post was something you needed to read. And I hope you find yourself lost in a good book today ♡. It’s my favourite form of self care!

  6. Reply

    cupcake1007

    August 19, 2017

    I find it so so hard to do nothing but oh the benefits when I do. With four kids, my do nothing time is constantly being interrupted by implorances to do something…for them. So, for now, my doing nothing time consists of putting down the phone and giving my littles attention. One day I will have me time again and I’ll be so lonely!

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 20, 2017

      As the youngest of 4, I definitely know where you’re coming from Jamie. I was that little imploring voice for my mama for a long time 😅. I hope there are little moments here and there for you. But time with the kids is also really good for us too. Playing, imagining, colouring… they’re all great forms of self care and really good for our minds. I hope you get lots of play time in today and have a wonderful time with your little ones. You’re right to soak up every moment ♡.

  7. Reply

    jessicadevlin

    August 19, 2017

    i love everything about this! thanks for sharing

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 20, 2017

      I’m so glad Jessica! You’re so welcome. I hope you have time to do nothing today ♡.

  8. Reply

    Chelsea

    August 19, 2017

    I absolutely love this! My mind is on overdrive all day every day. I always have to be doing something, whether it’s watching tv or playing a game on my phone I have to have something going on al day. It’s stressful and never made sense to me. I don’t want my daughter to be like that. This is definitely eye opening. Thank you so much!

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 20, 2017

      You’re definitely not alone Chelsea! It’s so easy to constantly be on the go with something. But realizing that a little unplugged downtime is needed is wonderful – I hope you and your daughter can make this a new self care tradition together! ♡

  9. Reply

    envelle

    August 20, 2017

    Thank you for this article! I find it really hard to do nothing. Maybe it’s time to work on that…

    • Reply

      Sara

      August 22, 2017

      I’m so glad you liked the article! You definitely aren’t alone – it can be really hard to make time to unplug and do nothing. But it can also be so beneficial for our mental well-being. I’m sure you’ll find your groove! I hope you have a fantastic day 🙂

  10. Reply

    Katarina

    April 4, 2019

    Great post Sara! I love the part about being alone giving us time to reconnect with ourselves

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it Katarina! We really do need to reconnect with ourselves sometimes. It’s really important for our well-being. I think it helps to be encouraged and reminded of that as often as possible <3. Hope this weekend has a little you-time waiting for you!

  11. Reply

    cinny

    April 4, 2019

    I absolutely agree with this. I think it’s important to have “me time” to rejuvenate.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      Heck yes to that goodness Cinny! We all need a little “me time” for our well-being. I think it’s something we all need to be reminded about. 🙂 Happy you think it’s important too!

  12. Reply

    Funke olotu

    April 4, 2019

    i really need this, i need time to do nothing! i am an over thinker so i stress myself even without being stressed, thank you for this!

    i need to breathe and relax

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      I can absolutely get that Funke! You’re talking to a fellow over thinker. Taking that time to decompress and unwind is a HUGE help. I hope it helps you a ton too <3. Sending so much love your way!

  13. Reply

    notquitesupermommn

    April 4, 2019

    I SOOO wish I had a nothing planned this weekend. We are on a long stretch of a VERY busy calendar. Next week I plan to unplug, relax and do nothing (well, probably read that new book on my nightstand, but still). <3 I can't wait!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      Oh a little time with a good book is seriously pure heaven! I’m so glad you had time for that in the near future. Was it a good book? 🙂

      I imagine this weekend is a busy one too, with Easter here. Hope the bunny finds you ^^. Have fun! And, if possible, enjoy a little book time! Sending you tons of love darling!

  14. Reply

    Jaye Shields

    April 4, 2019

    Now this is my kind of post! I love doing nothing and I think it does wonders for my mental health!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      It absolutely does Jaye! We all need a little more of it. Hope you get to enjoy some time doing nothing this weekend 🙂

  15. Reply

    Subhashish Roy

    April 4, 2019

    I do take away time to be with myself doing nothing. It helps to rewind, gives our mind some space to start thinking beyond the normal. I think we are in this matter like minded.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      That’s wonderful Subhashish :). It really is good for our mental health! And all the goodness you highlighted are such wonderful things to tap into. I couldn’t agree more ^^

  16. Reply

    Ben Butler

    April 4, 2019

    I’m a big fan of doing nothing when possible. It allows me to decompress and purge at least some of the stress that builds up.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      That’s awesome Ben! And a wonderful form of self-care. I’m really glad you do that for yourself. We all deserve a little more of that 🙂

  17. Reply

    Bill Sweeney

    April 4, 2019

    While I like to be busy with work or doing activities with the kids, you don’t have to tell me twice to stop and do nothing! It’s a great way to let go of any negative energy.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      That’s an awesome way to put it Bill! It really does clear out the negative. And gives us so much more energy to keep up with the busy things. 🙂 Glad you have a good balance!

  18. Reply

    artch33

    April 5, 2019

    I sometimes feel guilty when I’m doing nothing. :0( I would spend about 5 minutes but would think of things to do then I just get up and do those things…

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      I think that’s totally natural Artch! We live in a time when productivity is everything. Struggling with slowing down is absolutely normal. But I’m so glad you try! And I hope that knowing that taking a moment to do nothing and decompress really does help you be more creative and productive in the end helps a little. <3 Sending love and encouragement your way 🙂

  19. Reply

    Snehal

    April 5, 2019

    On the weekends I’m mostly not doing any work except relaxing and rewind. I also enjoy cooking! 😊

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      That’s fantastic Snehal! A great way to enjoy your free time. I hope that you get to cook up something extra special this weekend! Enjoy <3. Thanks a ton for sharing with us!

  20. Reply

    bianca8080

    April 5, 2019

    I am so guilty of always trying to crumb my time with something to do almost every minute. I guess that happens with you are trying to turn your blog into a business and still keep a job too. I really need to try and schedule in some time to do nothing at all. I am sure it must help with having a mental health balance too.

  21. Reply

    Thena Franssen

    April 5, 2019

    This is everything. Being busy is overrated and taking the time to do nothing is amazing!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      Totally right there with you Thena! I’m not about that busy life. De-stressing is so important. Here’s to making time to relax and do nothing! May you enjoy a little of that this weekend <3

  22. Reply

    Toni | Boulder Locavore

    April 5, 2019

    I totally agree with these! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      You’re so welcome Toni! I’m so happy you enjoyed it :). Here’s to slowing down and recharging!

  23. Reply

    Porsha carr

    April 5, 2019

    I just started walking whole time and it takes up all my time I could definitely use more time to do nothing thank you so much for this post

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      Congratulations on the new job or extra hours. I hope you’re enjoying it! It’s definitely hard to settle into a new routine. I hope that you find a balance that works really well for you. I’m glad this has helped in some small well! Sending you tons of well wishes!

  24. Reply

    Rose A (@mail4rosey)

    April 5, 2019

    I thini time to do nothing would be luxurious. I am definitely over swamped and have been for a while.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      I’m sorry to hear that Rose! Busy periods happens. And that’s ok! But know that taking a moment to yourself when you can to decompress is ok too. I hope there’s a little you time waiting around the corner. You deserve it <3.

  25. Reply

    sylviadonchevSylvia

    April 6, 2019

    So true! We all need some time just to be with ourself and do nothing!

    Great post!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      I’m so happy you think so too Sylvia! Thank you :). We really do need and deserve it. It’s good for our health and only makes us more productive when we’re ready to take on the world again! Booyah! Hope there’s a little time for nothing waiting for you around the corner!

  26. Reply

    Elizabeth O

    April 6, 2019

    Oh yes I would love to unwind sometimes. Maybe going on camp for a night.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      April 20, 2019

      Camping is a lovely way to de-stress and unwind! I hope you get to do that soon Elizabeth! Warmer weather is on it’s way :). Have fun when you go!

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