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I once visited a doctor complaining about how my mind was hitting a brick wall.
I was exhausted all the time, not so much physically but mentally. It was as if my brain was stuck, and I would ruminate and worry about everything. My emotions were up, down, and all over the place. No matter how much I did, I felt like I was going nowhere.
The joy was completely zapped from my being.
His words were profound at the time. But after years of practicing what he told me, I realized it was necessary for well-being.
But also—the key to appreciating and enjoying the journey of life.
Hard work, discipline, and acts of service were ingrained in me from a young age. And while I value these ethics, when I hit my 20’s I found it difficult to unwind and just—be. I felt immense guilt for taking a day off, having a sicky, or simply chilling.
My doctor responded, “It sounds like you have burnout. What are you doing every day?”
“Final year of uni, training clients, gym every day, side projects, puppy…” and I continued.
I didn’t add the countless hours I spent on my phone—looking at a screen nonstop.
He said, “Andddd—where’s your downtime?”
I stared blankly. “I don’t have downtime.”
He said, “Well, that explains it. Every single day, I mean, every. single. day, you need one hour where you have “holiday time”—pure leisure—at a minimum.”
To be frank, I think he was easing me into the idea by suggesting only an hour.
He explained the importance of intentionally switching off every day and engaging in mindless activities to separate work time from rest time before the end of the day.
Not once a week, not here and there. Every day.
I walked out of his office feeling liberated. Finally! Someone is telling me to do less—not more.
He was someone I respected, so I adhered to his guidance immediately.
Although I started with an hour a day practicing this “unwinding” of the mind, I found myself practicing more and more—until it became a way of life. As a result, the guilt dissipated, the anxiety alleviated, the slowness crept into my every being, and joy returned. Allowing steadiness and stillness into my life has been the key to better performance, harmonious relationships, healthier boundaries, and the evolution of my soul.
Not doing more, more, more.
So, why do we struggle to slow down and be in the moment if it’s the key to goodness in our lives?
For me, I associated being in the present moment, taking a day off, or chilling out with laziness. I was afraid of falling behind and possibly being a failure. By inviting space into my life, I faced those fears head-on and learned to continuously come to peace with them.
While taking action is paramount to progress, it is not the only element required to succeed or grow. There’s being productive and then there’s—being busy. They are entirely different. There’s a kind of rat race way of living—and then there’s a magical, mastery way of living. I would come to find out this later.
In his book, Stillness is Key, Ryan Holiday talks about how stillness is not just about being present but also helps us perform better in every aspect of our lives.
“Stillness is the key to, well, just about everything. To being a better parent, a better artist, a better investor, a better athlete, a better scientist, a better human being. To unlocking all that we are capable in this life.” ~ Ryan Holiday
When we play, let go, embrace the moment, we lose touch with the future and the past, which allows us to sink into the moment.
Although being in the here and now feels strange and eerily slow when we’ve been burning ourselves out senseless, we end up operating from a place of diligence, clarity, and selflessness. We care a little more for ourselves, those in our lives, and everything we put our mind to. A hasty, on edge kind of life is a sure way to evoke our selfishness—are we showing up as our best when we are tired, agitated, and snappy?
Being occupied with the future or running from the past may explain our unnecessary obsession with speediness and fast living. We’re afraid of something—only we can know what that is if we dare to pause and find out why.
When we practice taking time to invite stillness into our lives, our fears disappear, and something else takes over. It’s often unexplainable. It’s magical, to say the least.
Creative flow happens more and more, insights show up consistently, beauty unfolds all around us—and life is progressive in an organic, solid, grounded kind of way. (I genuinely love it, in case you couldn’t tell).
I adopted my doctor’s guidance, and over time, I realized that my over-working mentality was hindering me from the goodness that life has to offer.
Here are some mindless activities that help me to switch off—and be:
>> Sit outside in the garden and observe nature, the sky, the trees. Every day.
>> Play with my dog, hug her, squeeze her. Every day.
>> Clean and water the plants. (Cleaning for me is relaxing.) Every day.
>> Organise an area of the house.
>> Read a book.
>> Walk outdoors. Every day.
>> Eat my lunch outside on the warm pavement or grass without any distractions. Every day.
It seems counterintuitive to do “less,” but there’s more to it than simply “switching off.” Our brain is incredible. But it works best when we seek the right balance. It works in our favor when we learn the secrets of stillness and adopt nature’s teachings.
The problem is, we allow our mind to run the show and prevent us from experiencing the true beauty of what our brains can do. The journey of challenging the “go, go, go” mentality is difficult. We are required to consistently question our beliefs, dig deep into our spirits, and be willing to change to tap into the best version of ourselves.
Part of the process is acknowledging that we have to step out of the way and allow our spirits to come forth and work with us. I think this is why we struggle with letting go. We have to have faith, which is scary when we have no idea how things will turn out.
Sometimes, our doing reflects our lack of faith—in ourselves, in life, in nature—and how things work.
The way I see it is this:
Aspire to live according to nature’s way—in my body, mind, and spirit.
Embrace all seasons—the times in life where we forge ahead and when we settle back and allow. They all create the bigger picture and are just as important as one another.
When we note the seasons, how nature grows, changes, and what it gives us, there are intricate values that we can embrace and implement into our lives that will transform our health, our being, and our productivity.
By allowing ourselves time to switch off each day and unwind, we teach ourselves to remain grounded in all we do and all we are.
Stillness, to me, is not about doing nothing—it’s about cultivating a life with intention, steadiness, and allowing ourselves to be appreciative of every part of our journey.
It’s the flow between our spirit and our ego, respecting the things we can control and the things we cannot—watching the path unfold organically.
This moment matters just as much as the next.
This is permission to spend one hour a day doing nothing—and enjoying every moment of it.