What is the weekend: Rethinking doing nothing

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been talking about how to use their time at home to better themself. The internet has become full of articles talking about productivity, time management, and hobbies to pick up at home. What if instead of figuring out all these things, you just did nothing? Would it be beneficial? The truth is, it could be the most beneficial thing you learn to do during quarantine. It has major health benefits, and it allows you to break away from society and focus on yourself and what you want. Society pressures every aspect of life, and doing nothing can alleviate this pressure felt by many.

In a society that constantly pushes the norm of working non-stop until a goal is met, not meeting this societal standard can damage one’s sense of self and quality of life. Alissa Jablonske, writer for Thrive Global, experienced a panic attack from all the outside pressure she felt to be productive. She is not alone in feeling pressure, as many have become unemployed due to the spread of the virus. They have found themselves scrambling at home to try to find a job or better their resume due to the societal pressure to be successful no matter what you are facing. One woman recalled that when she became unemployed she “felt the need to justify how [she] was spending [her] time to others because [she] didn’t want anyone to think [she] was ‘doing nothing.’” However, looking back she realized, “‘doing nothing’ simply meant giving [herself] a break from the capitalistic expectation of productivity.” While society may label those who want to do nothing as a “slacker,” the reality is: doing nothing and taking time to just be with yourself has great benefits. 

Instead of learning a new skill or reorganizing your entire home during this time, taking time to do nothing can allow you to focus on your own creative expression and mental health, and it can bring you more fulfillment than a random activity you feel like you “have to do.” De-stress, (one much-needed benefit of slowing down), feel more well rested, mentally stronger, and happier. And even though we are following social distancing orders, many of us are living in close quarters with family members or friends. By boosting that mental health and de-stressing, you’re increasing what so many of us need right now: kindness. When you can focus on yourself and have your own thoughts, it makes you long for a larger sense of purpose. This pushes you to both be mindful of others and express yourself in your own way.

Yet, we live in a society where being idle is not only a foreign concept but a demonized one. 

According to an article in National Geographic, it can even help you solve your problems. Doing nothing allows your subconscious to expand, leading to an increase in creativity. Oh the irony — do nothing in order to create! Many think they have to be a sharp thinker to be creative, but in reality, all it takes is a person to clear their head of pressure and relax their thoughts.

While doing nothing may seem like a new idea, the Dutch have been practicing niksen, which translates to “doing nothing”, for years. In order to practice niksen, you must find time to just be, letting your mind wander wherever it will take you. The idea is to do it without purpose, and without trying “to achieve something or be productive.” The benefits from participating in niksen? They are all across the board, from relieving stress and anxiety to stopping aging and helping to build a stronger immune system. In order to actually get these benefits, it is important to make your mind own the process of doing nothing. Embracing these ideas will make you less stressed and worried about all the things you are being told to do. The more doing nothing is normalized, the more it will be accepted, which means the sooner you will stop being judged for not being as productive as others want you to be. The next time you feel pressured by an article that pops up on your phone about what to do during quarantine, try doing absolutely nothing. It could just change your life.



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