There are times when a busy agenda can keep us young, as we discussed in an earlier post: Stress – The Fountain of Youth. There are other times, we should note, when there is a tremendous value in doing nothing. As an example, after a series of weeks filled with deadlines, pressures at work, and the excitement of preparing for holidays, it can be a great strategy to block out time to do nothing at all. If you have the time for it, a whole day of nothing is a great stress-reliever. And by nothing, that means unplugged: no alarm clock, no wrist watches, and the freedom to read, go back to bed for a nap, or wander around for a few aimless hours just to get some fresh air.
To get the best out of your “nothing” time, it is even good to turn off the high tech world for the day, to remind you what life was like before the cell phone, before the facebook, and before television. Time with your significant other, your pet, or just yourself.
One doesn’t need to find a remote beach to do nothing, we can carve out our own part of any given weekend. Take a look at your month’s agenda, and see where you are likely going to need a break. Black it out on your calendar, so nothing can get booked. Then book it.
When the day comes, you might still wake up at the normal time. If so, then feel free to get up, have a coffee, and take it back to bed. If you don’t feel like sleeping in, just lie there to read, or do a crossword, and before you know it you might dose into at least a lower pace of metabolism. Remember, try to do this unplugged, just like the rock stars do with their acoustic concerts.
In the deep salt mines of Russia, scientists did research into circadian rhythms unaffected by daylight, time clocks, external communications.
Volunteers were left to sleep as often as they wished, and most took advantage by taking cat naps. But the total hours of sleep needed actually surprised the researchers. Instead of sleeping more, the volunteers slept less total hours than usual. It seems the value of “nothing” was inherently restorative.
To be sure, we understand that stress in the long term keeps us young. But there is great value in a “recess” formula between busy classes, and a “recharge” formula between busy sections of our calendars.
By all means, keep a busy schedule during your down time, but at least once in a while break the busy with the calm. So see what you can do to clear the decks for a proper day of nothing. Farm out the kids for the day, unplug the computer, television, and phone, and enjoy at least one day of unstructured time. Then when you’ve had your day of nothing, you will be ready for the next segment of your busy calendar.