The daily grind of modern life can be exhausting: working, running after the kids, going to appointments, running errands, squeezing in shopping, preparing healthy meals, finding time to exercise…the demands might seem endless.
When’s the last time you spent an afternoon doing absolutely nothing?
According to Dr. Matthew Sleeth, taking time to rest and relax may be one of the best things you can do for your health. In his book 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life, Dr. Sleeth emphasizes that for almost two thousand years, Western culture stopped for twenty-four hours once a week, every week.
“Even when I was a child, you couldn’t buy petrol, you couldn’t buy milk. The shops just weren’t open.…And so society just had a day where they put it in park. [That] was Sunday…until the last thirty years or so,” he said.
Now, in a culture that celebrates being busy, people are on the go nonstop – and it’s taking a toll on our health and happiness. According to Dr. Sleeth, constant stress is causing a growing epidemic of depression and anxiety, and stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are linked to obesity and diabetes.
What’s the solution? Blocking out regular time in your busy schedule to rest and recharge. Though Dr. Sleeth recommends an entire day, taking it easy for just a few hours once a week can help you actually enjoy your life instead of watching it speed past.
Even if your Monday is busy and stressful, it can be reassuring to know that you have a relaxing and stress-free Saturday to look forward to. For someone with a sedentary desk job, that may mean unplugging from your computer and going for a hike; for someone who spends a lot of time on their feet, that might mean curling up with a cup of tea and a good book.
Whatever you choose, prioritizing unstructured downtime is a crucial form of primary food that will help you relax, appreciate what’s good in your life, and return to your daily tasks with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Do you spend enough time doing absolutely nothing?