THE ART OF DOING NOTHING

 

I am an over worker, a perfectionist, and an absolute freak when it comes to productivity. I feel like if I am not doing ten things at once, that I am failing at my business, my relationships, and most importantly, myself. The fact of the matter is - by doing ten things at once, I am not giving my all to one thing; or anything at all. 

 

Occasionally I will have a day when no one is around, I have no meetings planned, I have no deadlines to make, and it’s just me. Panic sets in around noon. I had already worked out, journaled, and responded to my emails. What else could I do? My brain rattled off some proactive tasks that could get done - none of which peak my interests. So I made avocado toast. I toasted the bread, smeared the avo, dressed it with some lemon, garnish with some baby lettuces, yum.

 

After the avocado toast, I threw on a podcast to motivate me to do the proactive tasks. None of which needed to be done - they are just things to keep me busy and feeling accomplished. I sat down in front of my computer… and I got nothing. I couldn't write, I couldn't edit, I couldn't plan. I felt brain paralysis like never before. So I did the only thing I could do after minutes of panic and dread; I leaned into the nothingness, for the first time in months.

 

Here is what I did this afternoon:

1. Watched a half an episode of The Office
2. Cleaned
3. Did a face mask
4. Journaled again
5. Cried
6. 10 minute guided meditation from my sister (@yogalife_by_shell)
7. Googled “does celery juice actually work” for 35 minutes - answer is: I honestly don’t know.
8. Googled “acne home remedies” - STOP TELLING ME APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
9. Sat with my breath again - it gets short and choppy when I am stressed. I practice the 5, 5, 5 breathing technique here when that happens
10. I listened to a podcast for pleasure - not self growth (my weakness)
11. I played my ukulele (for 5 minutes)
12. I walked to the corner store for fun! I picked up three Kombucha’s and a seltzer
13. I came home and wrote this 

 

Through accepting that my body and mind were resisting work - I was able to work. I leaned into the nothingness, lost my mind, cried, laughed, sang, and drank Kombucha. I came out feeling mentally cleansed and ready to reconnect to myself and my purpose of why I do the work I do in the first place.

 

We live in a world that makes it really hard to unwind. We have come to equate success with achievement, and achievement with happiness. Research has shown that stress, anxiety and depression, which come on the heels of this kind of non-stop pressure to achieve, physically interfere with the body’s relaxation mechanisms. And of course focusing on relaxation is yet another high-pressure goal we add to the list.

 

It can be overwhelming trying to be successful and perfect at a million things at once. Women in particular apply a lot of pressure to be perfect and we often punish ourselves when we are not. According to the results from an Australian study, 33 per cent of women in corporate workplaces had high perfectionism scores, compared to 21 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women exhibited self criticism, compared to 34 per cent of male respondents.

 

It is an amazing characteristic of mine to be a go-getter and a do-aller but if I don't accept what my mind and body tell me in moments like this particular afternoon, I will crash and burn and so will my businesses. Learning and practicing the art of doing nothing will enhance my well being and give me the mental clarity necessary to excel in the areas I love.