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Why you need a Do-Nothing Day
It’s time to stop and take a long, deep breath. Because today, we’re going to talk about why you need a “Do-Nothing” day. How will you know if you need one? Some signs are: feeling overwhelmed or drained by life; feeling like there’s never enough time in the day; having trouble sleeping at night because your mind won’t quiet down, or just plain not enjoying things as much as usual. If this sounds like you, it’s time to plan for a Do-Nothing day!
What is a Do-Nothing day?
A Do-Nothing day is precisely what it sounds like. Well…almost. I don’t mean a day where you just sit and stare, David Puddy style (Any Seinfeld fans?) It’s not a day where you literally do nothing. (Although it CAN be if that’s what you need.)
It’s a day where you plan for zero productivity, zero accomplishment, and zero responsibility (except perhaps the responsibility of self-care). It should feel like a bit of an indulgence, something you do because your body or mind needs it. It’s a day where you take time to enjoy your life and take a break from focusing on everything else.
A Do-Nothing day can take many forms. Sometimes, it’s a chance to break from the mundane and do something different – an impromptu trip or adventure day. At other times, you may need a mental health day where all you do is stay in your pajamas and binge-watch Netflix for hours on end. No judgment.
Is it really okay to spend a whole day doing nothing?
Yes. Yes. A million times, yes! Think over the past week of your life…how many “things” have you done? Little things like emptying the dishwasher, big things like meeting that deadline at work. Now, go back and think about how much time you’ve spent taking care of yourself or doing something just because you enjoy it. Or even just sitting still and getting lost in your thoughts.
If you’re like most people, there’s probably a pretty clear imbalance there. That’s normal. And it’s accepted by society as being normal. But normal doesn’t always equal healthy.
If you’ve gotten used to always being busy, the idea of taking a day to do nothing might make you cringe. Maybe you’re a little bit of a productivity junkie, and taking time off seems foreign to you. I get it. And I’m right there with you.
I still can’t sit down to watch tv without hearing my mom’s voice in my head telling me to do something productive. (She was limiting my screen time. And while that’s not a bad thing, the underlying current of “always be doing something productive” followed me right into adulthood!)
But taking a day off from “busy,” 1 day of nothing, to just enjoy life is worth getting past the initial discomfort of the idea for several reasons:
First, it gives your mind some time to relax and recharge after the busyness of everyday life.
Second, Do-Nothing days are excellent opportunities for self-reflection. You can use this day to reevaluate what’s really important in your life; and how to get the things you need to do done without zapping all of your energy.
Life is about so much more than just getting things done. You do need to be productive, but you also need some time for yourself. While “doing” gets things accomplished, how often do you really remember the days you spent marking items off your list? (Probably not that often.)
It’s essential to take a break from everything now & then and actually live. Everything on your to-do list will wait for a day. (By the way, if your to-do list is getting a little out of hand, check out this post.
How to actually make a Do-Nothing day happen
There are really only two options for a Do-Nothing day: planned and unplanned.
A planned day
It sounds a bit silly to plan for a day without plans, I know. So why “plan” for a day that is, by definition, a day without plans? For a few reasons:
First, having a planned day to ignore my to-do list removes any guilt you might feel about spending a day being “unproductive.”
Also, it’s nice to have things prepared. Make sure there is food in the fridge ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out what to eat (mmm…snacks…); that sort of thing.
I’ll usually also do a few routine chores a little ahead of schedule, so my day off doesn’t lead to more work later.
And finally, plan it out to make the most out of it!
If this sounds like something you need, here’s how to plan a Do-Nothing day:
The first thing to do is decide what your ideal Do-Nothing day would look like. If you woke up one morning with nothing at all that needed to be done, how would you spend your day? Chances are, this is going to look very different for every single one of you reading this. If you’re an active person, it might involve going for a long hike. If you’re a social person, it might mean brunch, then a street festival with friends, followed by dinner with your besties. Introvert-types might want to stay at home all day and not talk to one single person! ( <- #me)
My perfect Do-Nothing day usually looks like this:
Start the day by sleeping in…no alarms, no rush to get moving. Have a simple breakfast and a quick shower, put on some cozy lounge clothes or pajamas. Curl up on the couch for an ENTIRE movie. (You know, without pausing it every 45 minutes to fold the next load of laundry or something.) Then, probably spend a little time with whatever I happen to be crocheting, or maybe just reading a book. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, it might mean a little baking or cleaning out a closet that I’ve been meaning to get to. And finally, snuggling up on the couch in front of the fireplace with my husband.
Once you’ve decided what your planned Do-Nothing day will look like, it is time to schedule it in.
Pro-tip: Check the weather.
If you want your day to involve outdoor activities, make sure to schedule it on a day that the weather will cooperate. Also, if you want nothing more than a whole day to spend reading, rainy or snowy weather is perfect.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you plan out each minute of your Do-Nothing day…that would defeat the entire purpose. But I do recommend arranging for the following things ahead of time:
Let your family or friends know you have “plans.”
This is your day. You’re off-duty. You’re free to say no to invites and free to accept them if you’d like. Just remember that you’re allowed to have a day off now and then.
Get your “supplies” ready.
If your Do-Nothing day involves baking, cooking, eating, or crafting, make sure you have the supplies on hand. Nothing ruins the vibe more than having to unexpectedly run to the store in the middle of doing nothing (especially if you want to spend the whole day in pajamas!)
An Unplanned Day
Ever have one of those days where you just…can’t…? Of course, you have; we all have! I had one this week. Our dog woke me up multiple times during the night – she’s a senior and, well, senior-dog stuff. I was called into work just as I sat down to drink my morning coffee. My morning shower was rushed. Before the day even got started, I just couldn’t get my feet under me. So I did what I absolutely HAD to, let the rest go, and went for a nice long drive to look at the fall leaves. Then I came home and just watched movies on the couch. The dishes didn’t get done. The things I planned to get done but weren’t a high priority were delayed.
And do you know what happened? Nothing. Everything was fine. I had to catch up on a couple of things the next day, but it was so much easier after spending the day resetting and relaxing.
An unplanned Do-Nothing day can be a little bit of a wildcard because it’s…well, unplanned. But I also think it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Sure, you can try to push through. But if you’re honest with yourself, are you really being productive? Or just going through the motions? (And, probably setting yourself up to need to fix or redo things later…)
Here are my tips for an unplanned do-nothing day:
If you can, take the day off work. Use a sick day if needed, or just get any high-priority work done and leave early.
If a day off work isn’t an option for you, mentally plan to spend the rest of your day taking care of yourself. Reschedule anything you need to. Think about having dinner delivered later. Decide if there is anything that you really have to take care of later or if it can wait. (More often than not, most of it can wait.) Just knowing that you have freed yourself from responsibilities AFTER work can help you plow your way through the rest of the day.
Most importantly, allow yourself to take the time you need without feeling guilty about it. Let everything go…for now. Not only will it make you feel better, but when you wake up the following day, you’ll be so much more mentally prepared to take on life again.