In our increasingly busy lives, we are constantly doing something – both physically and mentally. We fill our days with back-to-back activities, leaving us no time to catch our breath.
And when we do have 5 minutes in between those activities, we do more stuff. We respond to text messages, catch up on our Facebook feed or give a friend a call – because we have a bit of ‘spare time’. We don’t seem to stop, breathe and just be present.
‘What’s wrong with that?’, you might be thinking. We lead busy lives, and by filling every minute of our day with activities, we just about manage to keep up with our to-do list.
There’s no denying that our lives are very fast-paced, and that the to-do list won’t tick itself off. But this endless ‘doing’ can have a very negative impact on our overall well-being over time. Without any time to still our bodies and minds, we can start feeling anxious, overwhelmed and generally quite unhappy.
How can we stop that from happening? By simply giving ourselves a few minutes to do nothing each day.
What is doing ‘nothing’, in simple words?
Doing nothing is a very simple concept. It’s stopping and, instead of taking up another task or a convenient time-filler, finding stillness in your body, and quietening your mind. This allows for a moment of complete rest from everything, including your thoughts.
Another name for doing nothing is mindfulness meditation, but as meditation is still sometimes associated with doing some sort of mystical activity while sat in lotus pose, surrounded by monks, we simply refer to it as doing nothing.
Our minds love wandering, and our bodies tend to fiddle a lot, so you might find it challenging to find stillness at first. The more you practice, the easier it will become. There are so many benefits of doing nothing, both physical and emotional – and we have listed some of these benefits below.
It reduces stress and anxiety.
A lot of us have problems dealing with distracting thoughts, as well as distinguishing between a problem-solving thought, and an unnecessary, nagging worry. One of the benefits of doing nothing, or practising 5 minutes of mindful meditation a day, is gaining an ability to recognise unhealthy thought patterns, and let go of these thoughts. This helps avoid a ‘thought attack’ (a constant flow of negative thoughts), which cause a lot of negative emotions, and even physical pain.
It improves our heart health.
The less anxious we feel, the healthier our hearts. A number of studies have been conducted over the years into the effect of meditation on blood pressure and heart rate. They have shown that regular meditation can successfully reduce our heart rate, meaning that there is also a lower risk of cardiovascular heart disease.
It boosts our self-esteem.
We’re often a lot harder on ourselves than on others. Through meditation, we learn to be more acceptant of ourselves, even with the qualities which we would normally dislike, or would want to change. As we learn to be more forgiving to ourselves, the harsh tone of the voice in our head gradually becomes more loving, turning our self-doubt into inner confidence.
It makes us feel more present.
One of the most significant benefits of doing nothing is gradually becoming more present in our every day lives, allowing us to enjoy our lives more. We may not realise this, but a lot of the time we’re functioning in ‘autopilot’ – we are doing things without our minds being fully present. Learning to still our minds for a few minutes a day helps us become more present in our daily lives, and boosts our ability to give something our full attention, without the distracting chatter of our minds.
It improves our relationships.
As we learn that our emotions are created by our thoughts, we become less likely to give in to anger or frustration as a result of unhealthy thoughts. On top of that, as we learn to quieten our minds and become more focused on one thing at a time, we become better listeners and communicators, which is an important aspect of any happy relationship.
If you’re one of those people who are constantly rushing, you may think that you don’t have time for this every day. But the benefits of doing nothing make it worth dedicating time to.
At first, you may find it difficult to entirely quieten your mind and let your body be still, but with time you’ll learn how to let your mind and body get some well-deserved rest.
Make it part of your daily routine and it’ll become natural, like having a cup of tea in the morning. You can practice it when you wake up in the morning, or before bedtime for a relaxing good night’s sleep. See what benefits it brings you – and let us know what they are, we’d love to hear about your experience.
Borrowed Roads x
Would you like to give it a go, but don’t know where to start? Download our short meditation guide by clicking on the link below.