The Art of Doing Nothing – But Actually

Here we are the day after Thanksgiving, more commonly known as Black Friday and I’m doing nothing. I took this morning to wake up slowly. I had a couple client calls. I went for a walk. My husband had to go in to work and so I found myself alone. I called home to catch up with some family and called a couple close friends as well. Basically, the exact opposite day of what someone might picture on Black Friday.

While chatting with my brother, he said “Can you teach me how you feel so content doing nothing?” I laughed.

I used to despise being bored. When I was a teenager, I’d get SO antsy if I didn’t have plans or an activity to keep me occupied. Now the days when I get to move slowly or the weekends where I don’t have any concrete plans, they’ve become my absolute favorite.

In fact, when I’m home in New York, and back around the bustle, I watch my family flit from one thing to the next from the second the sunrises, until about 10 pm and I cringe inside. I often think about my mom and how she is like superwoman. I think I would crumble if my to-do list were even 1/3 as long as hers. I admire her SO much AND I hope I am never, ever as busy as she is.

So, when my brother brought up “doing nothing,” I had a stream of thoughts. I wouldn’t really say I “do nothing” all that often. It’s more like, I let myself have days where I don’t have plans ahead of time and then I spend them doing whatever feels good, in that moment.

I like having days like that. Actually, I need days like that. When my life feels too structured or too planned out, I start to long for more flexibility and freedom. I used to feel bad about this. I used to thrive in a jam packed schedule, and now it’s just not that way. I don’t mind being by myself. I live for the slow down. And I excel when I find the perfect blend of both doing and chilling.

If you’re someone who really struggles with the idea of doing nothing or having a weekend with no plans, I hear you! We want to be constantly productive, efficient, always on. Unfortunately, we are not robots and we need time and space to recharge and reboot.

Here’s some of my favorite ways to spend my “do-nothing” days:

– Walking – like those slow, good for the soul, enjoying my surroundings kind of walks. They can be solo, with my pup, a good friend or my husband. It doesn’t really matter.
– Dreaming – We hardly ever let ourselves dream like we did when we were kids so sometimes I’ll just drift off in thought, outside in nature or sitting my butt on the couch. I’ll let myself just think about what the future could look like. About what the life of my dreams would look like, as of today, at least.
– Movement – Often times moving my body feels really good. Yoga is one of my go to faves. It helps me feel connected, centered and grounded.
– Watching a feel good movie – I love movies. I love the really sappy ones that always make you cry. The super serious ones. They’re the best. And there’s nothing like cuddling up on the couch with a cup of tea or a bowl of ice cream to watch one on a day off.
– Something coaching/biz related – Believe it or not, I absolutely love my work. Sometimes when I have planned to do nothing, I end up feeling the most inspired or motivated to get to work on a new project, implement something I’ve been thinking about, etc. Sometimes I am weirdly productive on these days (without the pressure). It’s nice.
– Nap. – Sleep is SO underrated. We need it. A lot of it. I have no shame in my nap game, or even just laying in bed for a half hour with my eye mask on. Oof, that’s the good stuff.
– Read – I am a bookworm. I love reading, learning, exploring. Lately I’ve been reading lots of self-help and business-y books.
– Grocery shopping – Call me weird but I really looooove shopping for healthy foods. I get excited to go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods on my nothing days because I can take my time, look at things I haven’t tried, etc. It’s weird. It’s me. I like it.
– Catching up with friends – Since we move a lot, I put a lot of effort into my friendships and into staying in touch with people. My closest friends live no where near me and something that is really, really challenging. My nothing days are the perfect time to reconnect, send a loving text or spend some time on the phone.

So, do I do nothing? Yes and no. Depends on who’s judging I guess. My version of doing nothing meets all my needs and helps me to feel present. It’s a skill that took me a few years of practice to build and regularly work into my schedule. If slowing down or doing nothing is something you’re working on, I’d love to hear what you love doing or what you struggle with most! If you know someone who needs a bit more slow down, I’d love if you share this message with them! Wishing you a wonderful day.

We’ll be working on some more concrete ways to implement this on your own during this holiday season in my Stress Less Holiday Season Series. It’s a 4 week group coaching series. We’re starting this Tuesday, 11/27/18. I would love for you to join! Send me an email here if you’re interested!

Picture of Chelsea Connors

Chelsea Connors