The Lost & Forgotten Art of Doing (Almost) Nothing
Last week my husband and I celebrated our seven-year wedding anniversary by going nowhere. We made sure to plan a lot of nothing. We didn’t have to pack anything. And it was everything.
The Staycation feels like a lost and forgotten art. Gobbled up by our go-go-go culture, we seem to apply the busyness mentality of “doing” to our vacations, weekends, days off and downtime.
Someone recently asked me innocently enough, so what do you like to do?
Instead of giving a normal answer like, “read books” or “ride bikes” I sputtered out something like, “I like to have nothing planned and then do nothing.” Come on, Angela.
This wasn’t always the case! I used to schedule friend dates for myself three in a day for breakfast/lunch/dinner just to avoid…doing nothing?
These days I seem to struggle with the opposing desires of wanting to be weird-ER and wishing I could just give normal answers. But Brene Brown tells us “fitting in” is the death of our authenticity, and authenticity is something that feels pretty important these days.
Anyways I’ve probably always been pretty weird, but just excellent at hiding it. I’m pretty happy that the cracks are starting to show. Cracking off our façade of “fitting in” allows the light to shine in and the flowers to grow; it allows the light from our soul to peek out.
So if you feel yourself starting to crack because of this crazy world and culture we live in, don’t fret and try to duct tape it all back together, embrace those cracks that encourage you to just be…you.
So no, Forbes, we don’t need an article called “16 Things to Do on a Staycation.” We’re all pretty good at figuring out how to stay busy. What we do need to learn is – how to do less.
Fall is a season that not only encourages us to slow down and do less, it basically batters us on the head with the suggestion. The only desires I have lately are to sip tea, read books, gaze at fires, and hear the satisfying crunch of dead leaves under my feet.
So here it is, the list that we all need instead: 16 Ways to Do Nothing. Scratch that, 16 is way too many for any list – doesn’t that make you feel anxious and behind before you’ve even begun??
Here instead: 8 Excellent Ways to Do (Almost) Nothing…keep these in mind for your next Staycation, or better yet integrate them in small doses into your everyday.
1. Lie on the ground. I can’t tell you how many times growing up I would walk upstairs or into the house only to find my mom lying on the ground practicing Corpse Pose (thank you, Mom, for also being mildly weird). But it helped to infuse into me the idea that even in the midst of a flurry of productivity (and a busy bee she is) it’s also ok to lie on the ground and play dead.
2. Write in a journal. If you don’t have a journal that makes you really excited, go out and treat yourself. Remember when picking out your school supplies was really exciting? It still is!! World Market, Target, Barnes & Noble – tons of journals. The hubs and I just spent half a day on our Staycation poking around World Market and reading all of the inspirational quotes from inside the journals. I honestly don’t know what’s more fun, picking out the journal or writing in it.
3. Stare at a fire. Indoors, outdoors, a fake fireplace heater, a bunch of candles on a table – do what you need to do to get some flames to gaze at. Wildly soothing and contemplative. Plus, you can make s’mores.
4. Draw or color. A few years ago when I was in the hospital with complications from an intestinal surgery, the hubs and I got really into those adult coloring books. Surprisingly soothing and addictive, plus you get a finished product to hang on the wall. Take that, kids’ work on the refrigerator.
5. Sip tea. Like we always talk about at our Chinese Gongfu Tea Ceremony workshops, the American “ritual” of mindlessly gulping down a mug of bitter tea while rushing off to work or tapping away at our keyboard leaves much to be desired. Make it special. Use your favorite real ceramic mug and pick out a tea that you love. Take it slow. Set a timer for the amount of time you’re steeping your tea and spend that time taking some deep breaths. Treat it like a smoke break, but with antioxidant liquid instead of cancer chemicals. Make it taste good. Please for the love of God, we must stop over-steeping our tea. Bitter tea is always user error 😉
6. Read a book. Or listen to the audio version. Get lost in a story or learn something new and amazing. Go on an epic adventure or light up your soul with inspiration.
7. Walk in nature. Walking around your neighborhood is great; getting out into a forest is even better. Leave the phone at home – unless you’re listening to a podcast, this is one of my favorite times for that. (And may I shamelessly suggest the Moondance Wellness Coaching podcast to accompany you on your nature walks?) This time of year you can really soak in the amazing displays of color. And, of course, feel that satisfying crunch under your toes. Two-for-one: do anything else from this list above while IN nature!
8. Do something that resembles meditation. Yin Yoga is an excellent loophole as it combines passive “doing” with the secret act of meditating. Yoga Nidra is even better as it combines…napping…with the secret act of meditating. And here we are back at our #1 way to do (almost) nothing: go ahead and lie on the ground 🙂