Why Doing Nothing Should Be on Your To-Do List, According to Research
Between work commitments, family obligations, the constant barrage of news updates, and the never-ending cycle of emails, we truly live in a 24/7 world. Though it’s tempting to want to stay on top of it all, it’s actually more important than ever to spend time doing absolutely nothing. And that’s a scientific fact.
Leisure time has become an elusive beast for almost everyone. That’s thanks in large part to the fact that many people wrongfully equate leisure with laziness. However, as Simon Gottschalk, Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wrote for Live Science, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“...to equate ‘doing nothing’ with nonproductivity betrays a short-sighted understanding of productivity,” Gottschalk wrote. “In fact, psychological research suggests that doing nothing is essential for creativity and innovation, and a person's seeming inactivity might actually cultivate new insights, inventions or melodies.”
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So, how can people really take time to do nothing in their everyday hectic lives? According to Gottschalk, it doesn’t take a lot. In fact, one of the easiest ways to find a bit more peace and leisure is to put down the phone and delete social media, even for just a few days.
As the professor pointed to, Danish researchers found that students who disconnected from Facebook for just one single week reported increases in both life satisfaction and positive emotions.
Moreover, getting outside has been long proven to increase a person’s happiness. In one experiment Gottschalk pointed to, neuroscientists from Washington University in St. Louis found that when they went on nature trip themselves they also reported enhanced cognitive performance.
“As we race along, it seems as though we're not taking the time to seriously examine the rationale behind our frenetic lives,” Gottschalk wrote, “and mistakenly assume that those who are very busy must be involved in important projects.”
So next time you’re tempted to open an email after hours, click on the news late at night, or scroll through social media think twice. You may be able to gift yourself that five minutes of silence instead.