One of the greatest pleasures of my new-ish morning routine is that I start many of my days by doing nothing. I lay around for a bit, before getting ready and then sitting with a cup of coffee for a few minutes.
My resting cup of coffee never takes me more than 20 minutes to finish — and it’s usually far less than that — and yet when I skip I can feel how much tenser I am, and more prone to stress during my morning commute.
What I’m missing is the benefit of doing nothing, of enjoying a bit of alone time before I venture out into the world and the daily grind begins.
In an article entitled “Start. Wasting. Time.,” Brad Waters, a career coach, writes that while you likely have to-do lists to work through and goals to achieve, you also need to give yourself the gift of true, unadulterated alone time.
One of the kindest gifts we can give one another, and ourselves, is the freedom of free time. Unrestrained, unmonitored, guilt-free, time. Time to get full and deep sleep, to wake slowly to our natural rhythm, to cosy under the covers and listen to the sounds our home makes, and then the birds, and then the trees.
To prepare nourishing food and chew it and taste it. To feel individual droplets of water as we shower and then let our hair air-dry in the sun as we step outside to do absolutely nothing. To be pointless, and playful, and youthful. And to accept that everything else that we’re not doing in that moment is going to be OK if it waits a few moments more.
True, unstructured free time — when you rid yourself of the expectations and demands of others and yourself — helps you relax, and rejuvenates your mind, Waters writes.
“We lose our balance when we don’t free up our brain from the constant barrage of decision-making, judgment, labelling, and mind chatter that follow us every single moment of our busy lives,” he writes.
During the week, the mornings are often the only time I have to pause and relax. For you it might be after work, or during a mid-day walk. Whenever it is, give yourself permission to savour your alone time — your to-do lists will still be there when you come back.