7 Easy Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing

When's the last time you sat back, tuned out, and let your mind go blank?

If you're unable to even remember the last time you did absolutely nothing at all, it may be time to start planning to do just that. Experts say that rather than being unproductive, doing nothing can reduce stress, help you heal faster, and contribute to a sense of well-being.

"It's very important," says Jane Pernotto Ehrman, M.Ed., a Mind/Body Coach for the Cleveland Clinic. "When you do nothing, it is very calming to your brain and when your brain is calm, your energy is restored more quickly and your cells and tissues can repair themselves."

But can a Type A, social-media addicted, never-let-the-smartphone-out-of-my-sight individual ever do nothing? Here's how to make it enjoyable:

1. Simply sit back and become conscious of your breathing. Then try being conscious of the peaceful space breaths that you take, Ehrman recommends. A space breath, she explains, is the little space between the end of an exhalation and the start of an inhalation. "As you become calm, these space breaths get longer and this is what you want to have happen," Ehrman says.

2. Invest in a sketch pad and some paints or colored pencils and draw a flower, a tree, or your favorite animal. Enjoy creating something, and then enjoy the sight of your artwork.

3. Sit outside and allow yourself the simple luxury of not moving. "Feel the breeze," Ehrman says. "Breathe in the fresh air, and listen to how the leaves sound when the wind brushes them."

4. Make yourself a cup of tea and drink it while doing absolutely nothing else, says Ashley Davis Bush, MSW, LCSW, author of Shortcuts to Inner Peace. "Focus on the cup of tea and nothing else," she advises. "Notice what it feels like to hold the cup, to smell the aroma, to feel the temperature, to focus on the liquid going down your throat. Drink the tea mindfully." (And, she adds, it's hard to do this when everyone is so used to multitasking.)

5. At work, take a break to sit back and just let your mind drift, Bush suggests. "Let your imagination meander and unfold," she says. "This stimulates creativity and creates a respite from the chronic stress of constant stimulation."

6. Laughter can be very calming, so get yourself a desk calendar that has a new cartoon every day and  take a break each day to read and enjoy it, suggests Tina B. Tessina, PhD, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things that Can Ruin Your Marriage. Another way to guarantee a chuckle? "Share a joke with a co-worker or talk about a funny scene in a new movie," Tessina suggests.

7. Block out space on your calendar for personal time, Tessina advises. "If you don't do this, it won't ever happen," she says.

Ashley Davis Bush, MSW, LCSW, reviewed this article.




Hodgkinson, Tom. "10 Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing." Real Simple.