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The Joy Of Doing Nothing—Plus, How To Disconnect Starting Now

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Cindy Pulido And Family, Photographed by Nicki Sebastian

It was the name of the book alone that piqued our curiosity from the get-go—The Joy Of Doing Nothing: A Real-Life Guide To Stepping Back, Slowing Down, and Creating a Simpler, Joy-Filled Life. Yes, yes, and more yes, please! If you’re anything like us, the overwhelm of family life, work, social activities, and social media can make you want nothing more in life than to slow down, unplug, and find the time and space to just sit still. This book, in essence, is telling everyone to bite the bullet and do it already—reclaim that time! Written by “The Minimalist Mom” blogger and author Rachel Jonat, the new, straight-forward read catalogs the numerous social, emotional, physical, and even work-related benefits of simply being.

“As you make the choice to do nothing—for ten minutes, for an hour, for a whole afternoon—you are resisting the pervasive call to be constantly busy, overscheduled, and stressed. You are resting your brain and your body. You are making a conscious decision to put your well-being ahead of mental busyness,” Jonat writes.

Not exactly meditation (but certainly sharing some overlap), Jonat’s concept of “doing nothing” is considerably open. “To do nothing is to immerse yourself in activities that allow you to rest, replenish, and have fun,” she says. Some of the bullet points of what defines a do-nothing activity include a brain in “idle mode” and a feeling of relaxation, very low physical intensity, and an activity that is easy to walk away from. Netflix, we think, doesn’t count. Overall, it’s a chance to be still, connect deeply to yourself or someone else, and taking all of those little pockets of time in our lives and choosing “nothing” over something.

While it all might sound a bit vague, that might be the point. “Simply let it happen,” she writes. “Enjoy the act of doing and being rather than comparing the activity to anything. …Don’t burden yourself with judging your joyful do-nothing activities. This is all about being in the moment.”

If increased self-care and a more present life is one of your 2018 resolutions, check out Jonat’s seven simple tips for disconnecting, so that you can start connecting more deeply to yourself (and others):

1. Leave your phone home for quick errands. Get used to that feeling of not having it in your pocket/bag.

2. Put your phone to sleep for the night. Leave it charging in another room—not your bedroom. Yes, dust off that alarm clock and start using it again.

3. Turn off push notifications for most of your apps.

4. Have a day offline. It could be once a week or once a month. It could be complete (you actually turn your phone off) or partial (you only answer phone calls).

5. Set some evenings each week to be screen free. This means no television, phone, iPad, or computer. Get used to, and start enjoying, offline life.

6. Stop checking and returning messages immediately. Set a time each day for reading and replying to personal emails and messages.

7. Make a point of connecting with friends and family in person. You’ll start to crave more real-life interaction and rely on your phone less to nurture and grow friendships.

For more advice on “doing nothing”—including teaching your kids to do nothing, check out The Joy Of Doing Nothing: A Real-Life Guide To Stepping Back, Slowing Down, and Creating a Simpler, Joy-Filled Life.

For additional reading on the topic, check out Mother’s pieces on How To Take A Digital Detox, The Benefits of Playtime For Adults, How To Be A More Mindful Parent, and Teaching Kids Mindfulness, and all of Sherry Turkle’s thought-provoking (and often disturbing) work around connection (to oneself and others) during today’s social media/internet age.

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