Go, go, GO! It feels like these days especially everyone is going at 100 miles an hour, very rarely stopping to check in with themselves to see how they’re doing and if they’re even anywhere close to being happy. It’s funny, we are so quick to check in with family and friends to see how they’re doing, how they are feeling; so, why aren’t we as quick to do this with ourselves?
This month, I want to dedicate my piece to something crucial to me and my mental wellbeing which I’ve been practising quite a bit as of late, and which has been pretty life-changing as it has given me the time and space I need to validate and recharge. These days, we hear quite a bit about self-care but this term should be valued as much more than a simple buzzword for putting on a face mask or having a bath. It’s essential to practise self-care not just when you want to treat yourself, but to make it a daily priority; it doesn’t even need to take too long.
So, the joy of doing nothing.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m a worker bee and am pretty much obsessed with being productive and using my time wisely. I love being busy and getting tasks ticked off of my daily list; nothing can beat that feeling and it’s a great way to stay motivated during my working week. However, I also understand the importance of rest and recuperation, particularly when it comes to my mental health.
I adore spending time working on my passion but over the last year I’ve noticed that for me, because I’m so energised when working on what I enjoy, it does use up a lot of energy; meaning I have to put time aside to do nothing, take stock of my work, and most importantly, to reflect through journaling. I can’t tell you how much just writing something down helps me to validate what I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing.
At the beginning of my ‘journey’, I really struggled in terms of doing nothing because of how much pressure society puts on us; we always have to be doing something, or at least, that’s how we are made to feel. We look on social media and see what our friends are doing and are bombarded with photos of them out and about at events, on holidays – anything but sitting at home in their pyjamas and just relaxing which, if we are truly honest with ourselves, is something I’m certain we all want to be doing a bit more of, don’t we?
Then, when we do decide to finally rest we can’t help but check our phones and in turn feel guilty for taking the time for ourselves – how messed up is that when you actually think about it? That is why I named this month’s article ‘The Joy of Doing Nothing,’ because trust me, when you truly let go and just enjoy it, it’s absolutely priceless.
I want to tell you about my latest experience of doing nothing, and how it dramatically helped me in the long run, particularly with my mental health and overall wellbeing too. Apart from the weekly self-care days I afford myself where I take a whole day off of my phone and make time to read books, I’m still continuously working on the various tasks I enjoy such as creating social media content, filming videos or contacting people for collaborations – I’m always coming up with new ideas which is a huge perk to being a creative person like myself.
But recently, for the first time in 3 years, I gave myself a whole week off which was a huge thing to do because it would mean for a whole 7 days I wouldn’t be using a computer or doing any actual work, but I knew I had earned it. Ever since I had released my book in June, I had been well aware I needed a few days to properly reflect, rest and process. The first few days were complete bliss as it was like a novelty almost, and I enjoyed watching some of my favourite shows on TV and watched a whole host of inspirational TED talks on YouTube. TED talks are absolutely my thing and there is probably one out there on just about everything; it’s actually on my life goal list to do a TED talk one day – now that would be the absolute dream. Not thinking about my work was a strange feeling though because I enjoy it so much so it doesn’t feel like actual work, but again, it was for this reason especially that I knew I needed to rest.
So, did I feel guilty throughout that week? Absolutely. But the more days that went by the more relaxed and clear-minded I felt. It really was like a complete mental and spiritual recharge. I did things that I haven’t done for years – I went to the park in my local area and jogged as I now adore getting out in nature; something I wasn’t interested in at all growing up but now, I certainly appreciate the little things more than I ever used to. There is just something so calming about being on your own surrounded by trees, grass and nature – go and give it a try if you have a park or outdoor space in your area!
Being outside for me also gives me the time to process my thoughts and make any decisions I need to make. This is of course just how it works for me and might not be the same for everyone, but when I need to make a decision about something important I always leave the house. I feel that when I’m in a natural and different space, I can think much clearer – just by changing up my environment.
The most interesting result I experienced from this week off was how much more inspired I felt by the end of it. By taking the time to reset my brain by not doing any work, by the week’s end I suddenly had a tonne of new ideas I knew I wanted to make a reality and work on once the week had ended. That’s how I knew it had worked; I had all this new inspiration because I took time AWAY from my work, and this is the point I want to make to anyone reading this who may need to see it.
Stop the guilt. Stop the shame.
You are entitled and worthy of relaxing and taking time to do absolutely NOTHING whenever you choose. I felt more refreshed, my mind felt clearer and by the time Sunday came I was genuinely so excited for the next day to begin working on new ideas, but this time with more clarity and even more focus on what I wanted to do and achieve.
So, my advice to you reader is simply just to take some time for yourself. It might be a day, it might be 3 days, it might be a week, or even longer. Turn the laptop off, switch off the emails if you are able to, get outside in nature and reconnect with the real and pure YOU! Whatever life is throwing at you at this very moment, I hope you have a joyous September and thank you for taking the time to read my official first monthly feature!
To stay connected with me outside of Mental Movement Magazine follow me on Instagram at @iamjackwalton and check out the first season of my monthly podcast, A Slice of Life, available via iTunes, Spotify & many other streaming platforms.