Why do we have such a hard time with doing nothing? Is it our addiction to always having to be productive in some way, or that feeling we get when we cross something off our to-do list?
I get it. We’re not used to not having something to do, so when the opportunity to have nothing, to have downtime with nothing in the back our heads to do, it can be unnerving. One of the things that can ramp up anxiety is having nothing to do.
There are some days where we hit our task list and get it all done. Then you’re sitting there thinking “now what?” You’ve taken care of your clients for the day, programs have been written, check-ins are done. Maybe you even got to some side projects or things you wanted to get to.
But there’s always that feeling that something is missing. That we have to be doing something, that we need to be productive in some way, otherwise we’re wasting the day, wasting our time as if all hours of the day need to have an end result.
When you have nothing to do, when you’re not busy with an activity, or task, we start digging into questions like what could I be doing, what should I be doing, is there something I can start? All l that uncertainty can certainly ramp up those anxious thoughts.
We need to relearn how to be still, relearn how to relax and press pause. We don’t have to be productive all the time. The issue is that doing nothing can feel really hard, which is ironic. We feel that our lives have to be filled with tasks and to-do’s in order to feel like we’re successful at life or trying to get there. In truth, it takes balance. There are times to dig in and put in the work, and there are times to ease off and give ourselves a break.
We can get stuck in this “if we’re not hustling, we’re going to go nowhere” mindset, that we have to be busy. We get stuck in the land of “shoulds,” in that we should be doing this, that and the other thing. That mindset is toxic. It leaves us feeling guilty whenever we rest, or practice self care, or put our work away for the day.
Even if you don’t find yourself with downtime, or nothing to do, it’s vital to your long term health and success to schedule downtime and those moments to do nothing.