Table of Contents
10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing Introduction
10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing are simple ways to look at a day in a more positive way instead of thinking that you did nothing. How many times have you had a restful or productive day, and the first thing you think at the end is, “I did nothing today.”
But that simply isn’t true! You did things, and things that are healthy for you, for your mental health, and even your physical health. That is why I created this list, as ways to look at “doing nothing” in a real, true, and positive way.
My husband, Nathan, inspired this 10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing list for me. I work almost constantly with four blogs. There is absolutely no shortage of things to do everyday. Yet there are days when he comes home from work and we talk about our day, and I’m like, “I didn’t do shit today.” This is often said in a very negative context, as I’m irritated that I didn’t feel like doing anything and wasted my day.
Nathan always tells me that’s perfectly okay. I don’t need to work every single day, and that it is healthy to rest. Of course, I still feel like I’ve just done nothing and wasted my day. Which prompted me to really evaluate the way I look at quote “doing nothing” and change my perspective, and that is why I created this 10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing list to help you and also to remind myself that it isn’t simply “doing nothing.”
I was telling him about this post last night and how he had inspired it. He was a bit surprised. It reminded me that even small simple conversations can have a lasting impact on someone. Or maybe it is simply exactly what they needed to hear in that moment. Never ignore or blow off the impact of conversations, as you never know if it means something to someone else.
10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing
Rest is healthy. Resting allows you to be ready for the next day. Are you getting enough sleep? Sometimes you just need to stop to rest and relax. That may not even mean sleeping, it simply means not being busy, decompressing, and relaxing. Relaxing is rest. Rest is a state of physical, mental, and emotional relaxation that allows our body and mind to recover from stress.
Here are the seven types of rest that you should be paying attention to within your own life and habits. Are you giving yourself room to rest in all of these areas, or do you need to make one a bigger priority? Think about that in your life, and start making rest a real priority!
If there is a specific type of rest that you need in your life, I recommend writing it down. Schedule an activity listed below to help you get that kind of rest. Make it a priority by writing it down and making it happen. Schedule it just like you would an appointment. It is an appointment with yourself.
- Taking a nap
- Getting a massage
- Taking a break
- Going for a walk
- Turning off your phone
- Avoiding social media
- Practicing meditation
- Spending time alone
- Avoiding stressful situations
- Talking to a close and trusted friend
- Practicing self-care
- Spending time in nature
- Turning off the tv
- Closing your eyes
- Spending time in a quiet room
- Taking a bath
- Listening to calming music
- Practicing deep breathing
- Taking a break from work
- Pursuing a hobby you enjoy, or trying a new one
- Engaging in an activity you enjoy (this can be drawing, painting, knitting or crocheting, cooking, or anything else you want it to be)
- Spending time alone
- Avoiding social situations
- Spending time with close friends and family
- Having a solo picnic, hike, or lunch
- Practicing self-care
- Engaging in a spiritual practice you enjoy
- Spending time in nature
- Practicing yoga
- Volunteering for a cause you care about
I chose not to make plans
Not making plans means you know how to say no to things you don’t want to do, and that is exactly what you did. You should always be proud of this!
Choosing not to make plans is a great way to set healthy boundaries for yourself, give yourself time alone to recharge, and be ready for the next day or week.
Choosing not to make plans is not “doing nothing” either. It is choosing not to make plans. Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re doing nothing and therefore free to make plans. You should simply be saying something like, “I’m not making plans for this day/week right now.”
I recovered from the day/week
Oftentimes a busy day will catch up with us later in the week. I was out for ten hours on Monday, and loved it. But I didn’t sleep nearly enough the night before. It finally caught up to me a couple days later, and I was simply exhausted. My body was grumpy, and demanded that I rest and recover.
Listening to your body when it tells you to do things like rest, sleep, drink more water, and just relax is a form of self-care. Take care of yourself by listening to your body and what it needs.
Giving yourself time to recover and recharge is not lazy, it is productive.
I shortened my to-do list
I can’t tell you how many times I start the day with big plans to accomplish as many things as I possibly can, and my ideas are far bigger than what I can actually handle. When I realize that, it often feels like failure. Like I’m a terrible person because I can’t do everything on my to-do list.
But here’s the thing. Nobody is perfect, nor should you be trying to be. Shortening your to-do list means that you’re aware of your own capabilities and are making healthy choices. There is always another day, and things can be done the following day. They’ll still be there waiting for you to cross them off the to-do list. You don’t need to do everything in a single day.
There is nothing wrong with shuffling your to-do list around to be shorter today, and add whatever you took off of it today into the rest of the week. I’ll be honest and tell you that I do it all the time. I prioritize what is essential for today, and the rest can wait for another day if I’m just not feeling it today.
I had a mental health day
Mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more important, in my opinion. Because it is much easier to ignore your mental health needs than it is your physical needs.
Taking a mental health day is not being lazy or doing nothing. It is doing exactly what you should be doing to take care of yourself to avoid burnout.
When I start feeling restless and anxious, I know it is time to take a mental health day, because those things prevent me from being truly productive with my work and writing. It frustrates me when it happens, because I always think I should be able to do it all. But the reality is I still need a day here and there to recharge and give my best work. Don’t ever be afraid to take a mental health day, and don’t apologize for it. There is no need.
I took a nap
I really wish I could cash in on all of the naps I refused to take as a child. That is something I would tell my childhood self if I could. Take the nap. Take all the naps! Love them now, because you’ll want them as an adult.
Taking a nap is such a healthy way to stop and let your body recharge for the rest of the day. It doesn’t need to even be a long nap. Set an alarm and take a power nap for 20 minutes, and then keep right on going with the day. As long as your nap doesn’t prevent you from sleeping later in the night, you’re doing just fine. Enjoy that nap!
I had Covid not too long ago, and it took me almost a full month to completely recover and be back to normal. One of the things I noticed was that as I started to get better, I wanted to do a million things because I hadn’t been able to for so long. My body wasn’t quite ready to go as fast and hard as my brain wanted to. I needed to nap after a busy day. So I did. I let myself crash for however long I needed, then got up and went about the day, and slept great that night.
I watched a show I love
Taking time to watch tv that you enjoy is relaxing and a healthy stress relief. Don’t overdo it by spending a week in front of the tv while binging ice cream all day, obviously. But tv in moderation is a great thing.
It is a healthy stress relief, it can inspire creativity, it is entertaining, and it is a way to keep you engaged and sitting still if that is something you struggle with.
There is nothing wrong with watching tv and catching up on a show you love. For me, it actually puts me to sleep at times and helps me nap. But it will also wake me up, so it ends up being a great power nap.
I had a day with myself
I talk about the importance of date nights with my husband, and that you should also be dating your spouse if you have one. But you should also be dating yourself!
Take yourself out to dinner, out to a movie, go to a park and read your favorite new romance novel, or go for a hike.
The important thing is that you get comfortable being alone and spending time with yourself. Not only will spending time alone boost your confidence, it will allow you to get to know yourself on a deeper level, and will allow you time to rest and relax by putting yourself first and doing things you enjoy without having to deal with anyone else.
Recuperating means to become well again or get something back you’ve lost. This can mean your strength, health, and more. When you recuperate, you heal and recover.
Taking the time to recuperate is absolutely necessary and should not be avoided. You don’t shame yourself or anyone else for it after an injury, right? Why do it in regards to your mental health? Or without some great story and significant injury?
We should be normalizing recuperating after a stressful and busy week, to be better prepared and ready for the following week.
I had some time out
I love the memes on social media that say I’m putting myself in time out. Don’t let me come back until my attitude changes. But in all seriousness, taking a time out is such a great thing. It isn’t a punishment, nor should it be viewed as one. It should be viewed as making a healthy choice for yourself to step away from things that are disrupting your life or causing issues with your health in any way.
This means that you’ve pushed yourself up on your to-do list and made taking care of yourself a priority. It’s helpful to reduce stress, improve your health, and give yourself a better overall quality of life.
I’ve found when I end up in a cycle of overthinking, that it is time to put myself in time out and just settle, so I don’t let my mind spiral out of control.
Time outs should also be given to others who are proving to be toxic in your life. Just take a time out from them for a bit to come back to yourself and heal if needed. I found I’ve gotten really comfortable saying I need a timeout from someone in my life and why. This doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It simply means that I realize when something or someone isn’t healthy for me at that moment, and I need to step back and give myself some space.
10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing Notes
I despise the culture we live in where we are taught that we need to be busy being busy. If you’re not constantly busy and being consumed by it, you’re lazy and just doing it all wrong.
But that isn’t the case. You need to slow down. Take time for yourself, learning to be more intentional with the way you spend your time. That is why I created this 10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing list, as a way to not only teach you how to take time for yourself, but also to serve as a reminder for me when I start saying negative things like I did nothing today.
Because I’m just as guilty as you are for not only saying I did nothing, but allowing myself to feel guilty for it, instead of simply saying I took a day for myself and owning that fact without apologizing.
I feel that we should be normalizing taking the time to rest, reducing stress and anxiety, talking about mental health, and not apologizing for it, or allowing ourselves to be labeled as lazy or selfish for doing so. Stop saying “I did nothing” and instead say things you did from this list. It sounds so much more productive, and it is the truth. You didn’t just do nothing. You did something, and you did exactly what you needed to in order to recharge yourself to be prepared and ready for the next day or the next week.
10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing Discussion
Do you feel guilty for “doing nothing” with your day? Or do you look at it from a more positive perspective? Are you using these 10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing, or is there a specific area that you want to take more time for? How can I help support you making yourself a priority in your life through these 10 Easy Alternatives to Doing Nothing? I would love to help you in any way that I can. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!