5 Minutes of Nothing

September 30, 2019

I thought I would share this simple but effective way of giving your mind a chance to tune out in a short time slot. Over the years it has benefited me when I apply my “5 Minutes of Nothing”, about doing nothing. It has been a helpful tool to deal with stressful or frustrating moments. This week was a classic example of how I put it to use. 

There are some things in life that absolutely annoy me, it may sound like trivia to some, but we all have our weaknesses. Give me big problems and I jump into them with vigour. When it comes to smaller frustrations such as when my computers Outlook calendar stops synchronising with my devices (iPhone, iPad and Apple Mac laptop), I become extremely agitated. Particularly when I have been online, applied all the so-called fixes and four hours later, none of them have worked.

This is not the first time it has happened to me with my lovely Apple products in a Windows environment and I know there are many others who have experienced the same problem, just Google the issue. Our lives are busy, timelines are part of it all and it can be terribly frustrating when outcomes are not achieved. 

We are all caught up in the  in the techno world now and Apple have a major influence on my daily life. Much as I love it all, I confess there are times I wish I could just walk away and live on a desert island with pencil and paper.  Whether we like it or not, that personal support system when it comes to IT, is almost non-existent, it’s all online. 

My point being, how do we cope with things that bug us in our daily lives.  Years ago I came up with my own ‘nothing’ coping device and used it in the work place as well as home.  Mind you, sometimes I have moved the five minutes to ten of doing nothing, but with our hectic lives, five minutes can be ample time if you allow it.

With my unresolved computer problem, and no online chat support with Apple, it was important for me to stop, walk away from the computer and my devices and give myself five minutes. I had become more than frustrated to say the least. 

In this situation I was at home and able to sit outside in the spring sunshine. At work there were times I would go into an empty meeting room or at lunchtime sit outside away from the crowds. 

Although ‘nothing time’ is an event in itself, the concept of stepping off the treadmill allows you time to readjust and start all over again. 

There are a few basic suggestions when I have my ‘nothing’ time.

  • sit quietly where you feel comfortable
  • set your phone’s stopwatch for 5 minutes
  • close your eyes
  • and do nothing else 

I have found if I don’t close my eyes when I sit down, I will start seeing the things that need to be done around the house and garden i.e. dusting, weeding, lawn to be cut. Consequently, I begin a mental list and before too long, jump up and write it down, or worse, do it, as I find it difficult to tune out. This way you have more chance of shutting down some of the brain activity, where our minds are chattering away with thoughts. 

Most times I would set my phone on its stopwatch, but now retired it is somewhat different. I have more time to sit, maybe for longer periods where I am not under constant pressure with deadlines. 

With eyes closed your other senses such as smell, hearing and touch are at work in a nice way and you are in the present moment.  This time I could feel the slight breeze move a few strands off my face, smell the scent of the orchid sitting on the table next to me, hear my chimes play their soothing tune as well as the odd car pass my front fence. By this time the other mental stimulants began to fade in the background, and my five minutes not even up. 

According to Psychology Today, ‘doing nothing’ is an event, but the idea, that we no longer run on a treadmill of activity from getting the kids ready for school, to brushing our teeth, to conference calls, to picking up kids, fixing dinner, and bed, only to start all over again. The idea that our actions day to day become influenced by our instincts and no longer by routines, should and musts.  Research suggests we include an event to do nothing. For me, I have needed to include this for my sense of control and inner peace.

Italians seem to have it down pat. Their habits may be unrealistic to many of us but it makes sense when they make time to take a little nap, sit at a nearby café sipping on a wine or spend a few moments with a loved one. In our culture, particularly in Australia, it is easier to jump on a plane and fly to Europe rather than to change our established practices.

We live in a peaceful country and have the luxury of choice. This is why I suggest you make do with other approaches. The comfort of doing nothing and enjoying the present moment will suffice if we are willing and allow ourselves to put in the effort. Oh dear, this sounds like an oxymoron. 

There are some who benefit from other means of nothing by purely going for a walk, particularly if they have been sitting down for hours. If that is the case, try to free yourself up and walk wherever it takes you, with little thought. Whatever works for you is best. The objective and benefits of doing nothing; to regenerate our energies, re-attune to ourselves and to regain the feeling of well-being. To ease the minds of over active people i.e. self, doing nothing is something, even if only for five minutes. 

Acknowledgement: Psychology Today, Australia

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.