A Fast Path to Less Stress

A Fast Path to Less Stress


Unwind your system, find rest more easily, and ultimately enjoy and engage in the important parts of your life more fully.

We have become masters at multitasking. We make productive use of our time, answering emails when we are in line at the bank and making lists while waiting at a stoplight. We have sacrificed all our free moments in the name of efficiency. In the process, we’ve lost valuable time.

Time is a resource that we cannot replace. Once a moment has slipped by, we never get it back. In this age of constant demands on our attention, we must become more intentional about how and where we focus our attention.

Consider standing in line at a busy store, where do you place your attention? If you’re like most people I see in line at the store, you pull out your phone, check your email or social media, or maybe make a phone call. Every moment that, in the past, may have been spent gazing out the window, or maybe looking around and chatting with other people, is now spent in the pursuit of ‘getting things done.’

Rachel Jonat wants us to consider an alternative. Author of the intriguing new book The Joy of Doing Nothing, Jonat encourages readers to start small in the pursuit of doing nothing. Because we have trained our minds to be constantly busy, it may initially be uncomfortable to do nothing. Rather than finding joy, indeed we may find angst. The key then is to start simply. Since doing nothing requires no special props, you can do nothing any time you choose. While Jonat suggests using those times you are already waiting, in line, on the bus, for an appointment, she also recommends using your “fringe hours”, the time just before you go to bed and just after you wake up to practice doing nothing.

Jonat describes a do-nothing activity as “a sweet little luxury you give yourself” that allows your brain to “be in idle mode, and you should feel relaxed and peaceful. It should feel easy to walk away from the activity. Your mind and body should move and work with little effort.” My favorite, “It should also be fun! This isn’t a chore or obligation.” Importantly, you shouldn’t judge, critique or analyze your do nothing activity.

If the idea of doing nothing is daunting, start with fifteen minutes a day, wherever it feels the most do-able. Build on that practice, all the way up to the “deep” do nothing practice of scheduling a whole day in pursuit of the practice - baby steps. Jonat insists that once you start to notice how and where you are spending your time, on procrastination, on non-essential busy-ness, you’ll find that there is more than enough time to including doing nothing in your day.

By choosing to have times where you do nothing, you are essentially bringing the practice of simplicity into your life. You are becoming aware of when you are choosing to let in the white noise rather than sit in the silence. By doing so, you will start to unwind your system, find rest more easily, and ultimately enjoy and engage in the important parts of your life more fully.

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