How To Master The Art of Doing Nothing

The pitfalls of hustle culture include burnout, the psychological addiction to stacking coins – where time equals money and time not working equals money not earned – and of course, anxiety. There’s a fine balance between hustling and enjoying life, but it seems like we Millennials haven’t quite figured that out. A perfectly timed New York Times article on millennials and our obsession with hustle culture partially points to Instagram and hashtags like #workhard, #hustleharder, or one of my personal favorites, #riseandgrind (gotta collect those coins) as a reason to blame for this shift. But we can also blame entrepreneurship and even the gig economy where there are more gigs and less job security. However in recent times, post-global pandemic, people are getting fed up with the rise-and-grind approach which is resulting in the new craze of Quiet Quitting

I was listening to Ariana Grande on repeat a few weeks ago and suddenly it hit me:

“Some days, things just take way too much of my energy. I look up and the whole room’s spinning”

Those lyrics, that feeling –it sounded familiar and it sounded like burnout

It’s high time we unschool ourselves from this idea that it’s okay to work ourselves until we can’t work anymore because that mindset is unhealthy and perpetuates burnout culture.

Don’t be afraid to reclaim your time and energy as you work to recover from burnout. Be mindful of people, things, and situations that take too much of your energy and throw you off balance to the point of depletion. If you are ever at the point where you can no longer sustain yourself, both physically and mentally it’s time to think about a routine to reshift your balance. Self-care helps us restore that energy. But some of us are running on E and might not know where to start when looking to begin a self-care routine.

But First, Do Nothing

On the days when you feel overwhelmed as Ariana Grande sings, or when you don’t feel like doing anything, I have the perfect solution — do nothing. Seriously. It might feel counterproductive to do nothing when you have emails to answer, people to meet and of course, work to do. But if you are typically not the lazy type, feeling like you don’t want to do anything might be the first sign of burnout. Burnout is real, and if not recognized and dealt with it can cause major lasting damage in your personal and professional life. Indulge yourself, you deserve it.

Pick a Time to Do Nothing

Maybe it’s 10 minutes a day when you first wake up or 10-minute intervals throughout the workday. It could be a few hours a week or perhaps you need a whole month off. We are naturally social creatures and with a new app coming out each day, our phones and social media have practically become another lifeline. Step away from all the screens – your computer, your tablet, your smartphone, your smartwatch – everything. Set an alarm if you need to and 3, 2, 1 …. Do nothing.

When I first started doing nothing, it was always as a reactionary method to cope with feeling overwhelmed. But if you start planning when you are going to “do nothing” in advance, it can help alleviate any sense of chaos when life or situations feel like they are steering out of control. Make it a ritual to get to know yourself in your own skin and in your own thoughts without distraction. Some people might call this meditation or relaxing, but I just call it the art of doing nothing.

And besides becoming more in tune with yourself and your moods, doing nothing, relaxing, meditating – whatever you want to call it, can also be a stress reliever.

Know When To Seek Professional Help

But if you’ve consistently been feeling down for a few months and haven’t had the energy to do anything, you should also think about reaching out for professional help. Mental health is a touchy subject but there’s no shame in seeking help when you need it the most. Your burnout might be a symptom of a larger more chronic issue and it’s best to get professional advice on the best course of action.

Like all self-care routines, try it out and determine what works for you. If doing nothing isn’t your thing — there are so many other ways to start or continue a self-care routine. You could go on vacation, treat yourself to a manicure, carve out solo time to seek inspiration, stay grounded by talking to friends and family, or even do something as simple as journaling. But it’s important to know the first signs of feeling burned out or having an energy imbalance and try to find ways to rejuvenate because when we are at our best, we can also produce our best work and more importantly “keep breathing”.


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Adetutu Adekoya

Adetutu Adekoya is a writer and photographer with a healthy obsession for all things social media. She uses her experience as a researcher, expat and content creator to curate on-brand storytelling. When not looking for Insta-worthy pictures, she can be found trying out the street food in her favorite cities. Adetutu holds a Masters degree from Columbia University and in her former life was a public health researcher.


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