The Upside of Doing Nothing

There’s something about the new year that inspires a go-go-go attitude in most of us. But if the urge to take a break and hibernate strikes, give in, says Stephanie Brown, PhD. Turns out, there are some big benefits.
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There’s something about the new year that inspires a go-go-go attitude in most of us. But if the urge to take a break and hibernate strikes, give in, says Stephanie Brown, PhD. Turns out, there are some big benefits.
Live well, be present, candles

There’s something about the new year that inspires a go-go-go attitude in most of us. But if the urge to take a break and hibernate strikes, give in, says Stephanie Brown, PhD, author of Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster—and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down.

"In our society today, doing nothing is often associated with being lazy or wasting time,” says Brown, yet there are big benefits to spending chunks of time being unproductive. Need convincing? Do nothing and you’ll:

1. Get over the “tough stuff” faster.

“We stay busy because we don’t want to think about certain things,” says Brown. However, slowing down enough to face uncomfortable emotions rather than pushing them aside gives them less power, which in turn can help you disrupt your always-busy MO.

2. Inspire more empathy.

Experts suggest that taking time to reflect helps you stay in touch with your inner experiences, which translates to greater compassion for others and what they are experiencing.

3. Boost your creativity.

When you’re not continuously scheduled, you give your thoughts a chance to wander—and a study from the journal Psychological Science shows we tend to develop more innovative ideas when we allow our thoughts to drift rather than focusing on one task.

See also5 Self-Care Strategies to Outsmart Holiday Stress