Monthly Archives: July 2016

Idle time? What’s that…

Do you ever turn off all your electronic devices, the TV, and/or radio and just sit and stare out a window, or close your eyes and just be still? It seems we can benefit from doing that.

The garden seems like a great spot to sit and be idle.
The garden seems like a great spot to sit and be idle.

Since we are under an “excessive heat warning” here in Minnesota today, it’s time to find an indoor activity where, thank heavens for air-conditioning, I can keep cool.  (I mean that literally, not figuratively; though, it would be fun to be COOL too.)  So, it seems like a good time to explore the topic mentioned above, and sit at my laptop and write.

I read an article in the May 2015 Experience Life magazine that has got me thinking about the benefits of sitting idle (and in quiet).  In the article, entitled The Upside of Downtime,  the author, Heather Rogers, states that neuroscientists say our brain goes into its “default-mode network” when we are idle; and, this is where creativity and problem-solving happens.

Ms. Rogers goes on to write, “Idleness stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system bringing a host of healthful outcomes, including a reduced heart rate, good digestion, and better moods.”  Hmmm…

Even in retirement now, I find myself mostly always in the midst of doing something.  Rationally, I know that retirement is supposed to be a time when it is okay to just sit and do nothing; but, it seems I always have a little nag coming from inside my head somewhere, telling me I should be active…all the time.

Blogger wannabe that I am, I’m all for finding a way to stimulate my creativity.  So, here are some strategies I will try to employ in my quest to find (read that, make) idle time.  Just maybe, they will inspire you also.  Just think what our brains might come up with if we sit still for a minute – a new way of handling a personal relationship situation; an aha moment as to how to re-decorate a problem room; a new way of cooking salmon; a new landscape design plan; in my case, a new blog topic,  etc., etc., etc.

Let’s try –

  • turning off all electronic devices, ignoring emails, texts, notifications, and sitting in quiet, even for just 10 minutes daily;
  • shutting off the TV, CD player, or radio so we can sit in silence and stare out the window for a few moments;
  • allowing ourselves to daydream as we do menial chores like washing dishes or cleaning a bathroom (again, we need to avoid distracting stimuli and be in silence as we do these things);
  • going for a walk without using ear phones that are plugged into music or a podcast, instead just letting our thoughts go where they will;
  • letting our minds wander as we wait in line at the post office (something I did just yesterday for half an hour), in traffic, or elsewhere;
  • taking a few minutes just before bedtime to sit in silence and just relax (might help us sleep better also).

Seems like a plus to me if we also gain some positive physical health outcomes from doing any of the above…lower blood pressure, less stomach distress, and mentally – a brighter outlook on life.

I suggest we counteract society’s dictate that we always be busy, and strive to find some downtime.  It seems to me we have nothing to lose.  Let me know if you’re with me and how you find (or intend to find) time to be idle.  Right now I’m going for a walk and leaving my iPod at home.