Mental Health

Take Time To “Do Nothing” This Holiday Season

November 30, 2022

The space between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is busy. Being busy can be good: gatherings with friends and family, traditions that ground you in a sense of place and community, and creating memories with those closest to us.

This post was originally published on Eddie Bauer.

The space between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is busy. Being busy can be good: gatherings with friends and family, traditions that ground you in a sense of place and community, and creating memories with those closest to us. And…being busy can be challenging: giving ourselves to others’ schedules or agendas for the sake of obligation and expectation, over-indulgence, and not having enough time for healthy sleep, fitness or play, or personal recharge time. It’s a beautiful time of year that has challenges as well. Like all things in life, we can hold space for both. As we close out the year, I want to share one of my most personal practices: the Do Nothing Practice.

This practice has had a significant impact on my own ability to create adventure experiences in my life and for my family. From this practice, I have launched expeditions, planned mountain adventures for my kiddos, and made significant decisions that have shifted the direction of my life. I hope that it offers you space for reflection and creates an opportunity for curiosity and exploration.

The beauty of the Do Nothing Practice is that it allows you to experience the gratitude, reflection, and joy of this season while also holding space for you to recharge, reset, and recenter. It does both. The only thing it asks of you? Set aside some time, turn off the digital, and do nothing.

Sound simple? It’s definitely simple, but it’s definitely not easy.

Step 1:

Set aside three hours on your calendar. Three hours. No less. No more.

Step 2:

Determine where you will do your Do Nothing practice. It’s best done by yourself and in your own space. If that isn’t an option, I’m a father…I get it, use a separate room with a door that closes – a bedroom works well. My location of choice – is the couch in the living room.

Step 3:

Turn off all digital. No phone, no TV, no scrolling. You may want to let those closest to you know ahead of time that you will be unavailable during this time. They’ll survive without you. I promise.

Step 4:

Gather a couple of things for yourself: a journal, a pen, a book you’ve wanted to read, and art supplies for doodling, and you get the idea. These are items for personal reflection – we aren’t talking about major projects that need completion. I’d also recommend putting the laptop in the other room. It’s a time thief and would love to sabotage your experience! Pro Tip: Grab an extra blanket and a couple of extra pillows.

Step 5:

Go to the bathroom, grab a snack, a glass of water, or a cup of tea, and then head to your spot. Set a timer for three hours with a gentle alarm sound – nothing jarring.

Step 6:

Sit on the couch, or the bed, and…do nothing. Literally, do nothing.

Sit. Wait. Allow your body to first transition to nothingness. Find a comfortable position, then allow your mind to transition to nothingness. You have carved out this time. Those that need to know, know. You are now in the three-hour womb of ‘Nothing’.

Step 7:

Do not get up, leave the space, or gather other items to ‘do’ something. Your job is explicitly to ‘do nothing’.

You may find that a nap is the next best thing. Or maybe opening your journal and writing down all of the to-dos and reminders is the next best thing (it could help you clear your mind so that you can relax). Or possibly, you may reflect on the year, those closest to you, and how you want to share gratitude.

This is your time, your three hours, and aside from the ‘do nothing’ rule – there are no rules.

Step 8:

Notice your relationship with ‘doing nothing’. Can you dive right in? Are you resistant? Are you ninety minutes in and tempted to call it good? Maybe you feel that you’ve checked this box and now you have other things to do and better uses of your time. You don’t. This is your recovery time and it is vital to your well-being and ability to show up for yourself and others.

Step 9:

As the three hours end, your timer will let you know, and I encourage you to slowly emerge. Rise, stretch, and take a long shower. Change clothes. Come back to the ‘doing’ world rested, recharged, and with serenity, you can only experience the gift of doing nothing.

Mental Health

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