As humans, we’re conditioned to associate stillness with inactivity and inactivity with unproductiveness.
From an early age, we’re trained to be overworked, to believe that, if at any time, we aren’t actively doing something, we’re failing. This belief makes us unable to just be in the company of ourselves.
We are entirely opposed to being with ourselves. In a study done by the University of Virginia, over 700 people were asked to sit in a room alone with their thoughts for 6-15 minutes alongside a shock button that they could press if they ever wanted out. 67% of men and 25% of women chose to shock themselves rather than sit and think.
While most people would rather remain busy, stillness is crucial. We aren’t built to be running all the time, so overworked that we lose our own identity and stop living our lives.
Here are three reasons why it’s so imperative you take time to do nothing:
Constantly overworking ourselves drains our happiness and ruins our chances of a peaceful and balanced lifestyle.
The idea that we must always be doing something is completely unhealthy and unrealistic. We have conditioned ourselves only to feel accomplished if we are constantly active.
When you take the time to do nothing, your brain recharges itself. It completes unconscious tasks and processes conscious experiences.
When we are resting, neural networks can better process experiences, memories, reinforce learning, regular attention, and emotions, which keeps us more productive and effective in our day-to-day lives.
Overworking ourselves leads to burnout.
In his piece on productivity and restfulness in The New York Times, Tony Schwartz cited a study that proved that not getting enough sleep, or taking time to do nothing, was the highest predictor of on-the-job burnout. While a Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.
It helps you become more mindful, and in turn, more productive.
Practicing mindfulness reduces stress, improves memory, decreases emotional reactivity, provides more relationship satisfaction, and decreases anxiety. When you take the time to do nothing, you are taking time to become more mindful. This state of mindfulness isn’t taking a break from what you were doing, but taking time to do what humans are designed to do. This state of mindfulness will help your brain and body recharge, making you more productive later.