Being Okay with Doing Nothing


Doing nothing isn’t the same thing as being bored. Doing nothing can be relaxing, healthy, and productive.

Doing nothing is also not being busy with meaningless activity and calling it doing nothing. Most of us have been indoctrinated with the idea that doing nothing is bad. From the time we started school, we were encouraged to be actively involved in one thing or another.

What happens at school or work when you slack off, daydream, nap, gaze into space, stare blankly at the wall, stare out the window, or some other ‘non-productive’ action? 

If you worked at a business like Apple, doing nothing might have been accepted, encouraged even. But for many of us, in less ‘enlightened’ companies, doing nothing at work was frowned upon. For the most part, daydream-like activities are not appropriate for the workplace. You are there to work. Many workers aren’t paid to think, or do nothing. And there is always the problem of accidents, injuries, and damage occurring when you don’t attend to your work.

With the caveat that there is a time and place for everything, doing nothing is okay. More than okay, it’s good for you. If you are employed, you will need to pick when and where to do nothing. While you’re operating a forklift, welding a fitting, giving a presentation, or in the middle of surgery isn’t the best time.

When you have down time, after work, weekends, break time, your physical and mental health will both benefit from doing nothing. 

Scheduling and practicing time out for doing nothing, to sit idly and drift into being in the here and now, produces many health benefits. I like food, and I enjoy the county fair, so I came up with the acronym FAIR RIBS to describe the health benefits of doing nothing.

  • Feel more rested and clear headed

  • A stronger sense of self-confidence

  • Improved mood

  • Reduced heart rate

  • Replenish glucose and oxygen levels in the brain

  • Improve emotional well-being

  • Better digestion

  • Serenity

Some of the greatest minds have advocated doing nothing. They may not have said directly to do nothing, but the concept is integral to meditation, thinking, concentration, and sitting for ideas.

Then comes retirement

When we retire, we can leave behind the command to ‘always be busy… doing something.’ We can expand our horizons and do all the things we’ve been waiting years to have the time to do. And after we retire, we can do them when we want, for as long as we want, and not feel guilty about it. 

Get used to the freedom to do nothing without feeling guilty now so you can enjoy your retirement sooner

One of the great things about retirement is the chance to find your perfect balance between activity and relaxation. Between doing something, and doing nothing. You are no longer at the whim of a boss or a job, and you don’t have to impress anyone with your can-do attitude.

Enjoy creating the your perfect retirement

One of the most difficult transitions some new retirees have to make is being okay with doing nothing. Once you can make that mind shift, it’s time to ask; what else will you do? Doing nothing may work for a while but will is it the best plan for you over the next 20 years?

 It’s okay doing nothing, but don’t make a career out of it. Here are a few suggestions of what to do once you can accept doing nothing is okay.

  • Take a walk and notice all that is around you. St. George, Utah has miles of open space where you can be alone with your thoughts

  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a friend and share your gratitude for what you have

  • Have fun with your family and don’t worry about what you aren’t doing

  • Spend more time with family and friends

  • Show up at your old job with a picnic lunch and invite an ex co-worker to join you

  • Throw more parties

  • Write more letters

  • Take a nap

  • Play pickleball

  • Join a book club

  • Join in social activities

  • Join a club (for example; chess, bicycle, Razor, or lawn bowling)

  • Hike every trail within a 2 hour drive

  • Go golfing year round

  • Go stand-up paddle boarding

  • Go kayaking

Are you curious about astronomy? Take a class. Spend a few evenings with a telescope watching the stars. Lay out in your yard and watch the sky as the sun goes down, and stay there as long as you want. 

On average, physically active retirees live longer, and are healthier and happier than inactive retirees. Balance down time with regular physical activity and exercise. You can keep building muscle into your nineties. Getting older is even more reason to keep up your fitness.

As you think about what you will do to fill your retired days, ask yourself;

  • What are you are most passionate about?

  • What excites you, intrigues you and gets you out of bed each morning ready to take on the day?

  • Is there anything in your life or that you would like to add to your routine that you will enjoy day after day?

When you are retired, every New Year is really a new year to mold and make however you want it to be. Every day is a new day. Every day can be the first day of the rest of your life, there for you to make it the way you want it.

You don’t have to wait until you are retired. Start practicing taking time and doing nothing. You can improve your health, your outlook on life, and prepare to overcome one of the obstacles to a happy retirement. If you are already retired, you will find out there’s nothing better than getting up each day when you want, and knowing it’s up to you to choose what you want to do today.

Written by: Jon Thompson

TipsMarketing Department