Now, more than ever, we need to learn how to pass time without discomfort or distraction. We need to try doing nothing at all. Just try it! No phone, no music, no t.v.– not leisure… nothing! Do less to actually feel better.
It was something we did when we were young quite easily (prior to technology) but we are struggling now– even when we are un-burdened by much of our to-do lists and our over-full schedules thanks to Covid-19, we still keep doing stuff.
In recent years, we were over-booked, deeply scheduled, too busy, always occupied and completely distracted, at times running in circles. During the initial lock-down, we realised that maybe our previous life was a bit too much. Maybe the kids didn’t need activities every day, maybe you didn’ t really miss your nail appointment, or nights out drinking… (maybe you did), but you got thinking about how you’d prefer to spend your time.
But lots of what we decided we preferred (restaurants, holidays, live music, yoga class…) are simply not in the cards right now. We cannot do what we want, but we have returned to doing A LOT, much of it new stuff we don’t want to do. Whether your day is filled with on-line schooling, trying to tidy your house, get yourself or the kids out for a walk, working from home, the days are full of activity. We are trying hard to be productive, to not lose this time, to make it count, we are scrolling and watching more than ever. We are multi-tasking. We are not doing nothing.
Are up for the challenge? Try these simple (but hard) steps:
First, don’t have your phone out for food or sleep. Keep it in another room. Either enjoy your food, or the people you are eating with, or both… don’t over-stimulate yourself at eating or sleeping times. Every bit of research suggests that we get distracted by the phone if it is at arms reach, so don’t let it happen. This is simple mindfulness and attention to one thing at a time… and consuming negative information while we neat is like eating rotten food– it is bad for your digestion!
Secondly, try not to refer to your phone while shopping, or waiting in line. Look around. Notice people. Allow yourself to possibly get bored, without getting annoyed or feeling the urge to be doing.
This is very hard for me. My multi-tasking mind wants the time to be useful! But resting the mind is as useful as we can get right now. We are thinking too much. We are looking at devices too much! Wondering and worrying… our minds (and eyes) need a break!
After that, try a short walk– again without referring to an app, a podcast or another person… we all love to meet and walk– it is a primary source of socialising right now, but try to give yourself even 10 minutes without a companion or distraction– just notice the world around you. (Dogs are okay).
Finally, take 20 minutes (even twice a week) to lie back and relax. Cover your eyes, be still and quiet. You don’t need to focus on a meditation technique, or even your breath , just disconnect and DO NOTHING. Try watching this awesome live-cam of jellyfish @ Monterey Bay Aquarium in California 🙂
The greatest luxury in a busy life, is unscheduled time. Maybe you can unschedule something? Spend time doing nothing. I always found an aquarium the best tool for simply looking and relaxing. Abstract paintings too… Look at your schedule and invite some emptiness into it- some non-doing.