Being OK with Just Being (or the Art of Not Doing)

15 Apr

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

- Ferris Bueller

Tomorrow is my first day back at work after one month of medical leave for my hip surgery. I am usually a pretty busy person between my job (I probably average 55 hours/wees) and other stuff (yoga, exercise, teaching, blogging, etc.). It was pretty hard for me to accept that I had to sit at home and do nothing for a month. I realize this sounds fun (the sitting around, not the surgery) to some people, but it made me very anxious to think about not being able to DO anything.

This anxiety about not DOING something made me stop and think. I definitely think a lot in terms of how “productive” I’ve been. Our productivity is actually measured at work (hours billed). Even on weekends or at night, I frequently use my accomplishments to determine if it was a “good” weekend or night. I often feel guilty when I relax. I have honestly struggle to sit and even just watch TV or a movie by myself. I feel compelled to do something else so it feels productive: clean, play words with friends, blog… :) If I’m with someone else, I can watch because then I’m “doing” something because spending time with someone else. My mom is the same way. I blame the Protestant work ethic lol. I even cataloged what I did over my break (yes I’m that big a nerd).

  • Seasons of Dexter watched: 2
  • Seasons of True Blood watched: 3
  • Seasons of Game of Thrones watched: 1
  • Hunger Games books read: 3
  • Game of Thrones books read: 3.5
  • Average hours slept a night: 8.5
  • Average wake up time: 9 am
  • Average naps/day: 1
  • Time on the exercise bike: 30 min/day average
  • Amount of time cuddling with Tansy (my dog): too much to count

I fought relaxing for the first part of my break (well, after I was off the pain meds).  I constantly looked for things to do. I wrote more blog posts. I created a Pinterest page. I checked Facebook obsessively, feeling like I was missing out on things socially. I felt cranky and irritated that I had to have help doing everything and couldn’t go anywhere. I played a million games on my phone (words with friends, scramble with friends, and draw something) multiple times a day. I think part of the problem is my more type A personality and the need to feel like I’m accomplishing things. I think the other part was fighting the message from the universe, which was that I needed to stop and slow down.

About half-way through the break, something happened (long story that I won’t include here), and I was able to let go of my need to do something and accept just being. I think I was finally able to get it through my head that all signs were pointing to the fact that I needed to have time to just rest and recuperate and NOT be busy doing stuff.  I think the change in weather helped; I did “work” on my tan ;) I no longer felt so anxious, antsy and irritable. or I needed to look for something to do to feel okay. Instead I really enjoyed my time off. I was able to get into my longer book series (I’m completely obsessed with Game of Thrones now). I napped more. I checked my computer and phone less. I was happier overall.

Based on my experiences with time my off, the following are my mini resolutions for when I return to work:

  • Spend some time outside every day, ideally getting sunshine
  • Get more sleep (see point below)
  • Turn off technology 1 hour before bed (it made a big difference my sleep)
  • Enjoy my new found mobility and get out to see friends more now that I can. Make time for it during the week.
  • Spend less of my free time (nights/weekends) on the computer and phone. This includes work.
  • Make sure to make time for daily exercise/physical therapy. I have to do it now, so no excuses!
  • Maintain work/life balance (New Year’s resolution I did worst on so far this year)
  • Take more time to unplug and be present and mindful
  • More bubble baths
  • More meditation (made a big change in my mood)

We’ll see how they go :)

Tansy is the mistress of relaxation

4 Responses to “Being OK with Just Being (or the Art of Not Doing)”

  1. Monique April 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    I 100% agree! I struggle with being able to just “do nothing”. It’s a challenge!

    On the plus side: during my prep today, I took a walk to the liquor store down the street (yay sunshine!) to get a soda, rather than doing some work. It’s necessary sometimes!

    Making time for friends during the week made a BIG difference in my happiness level when I was stressed at work – I knew I had something to look forward to besides the weekend. That was my New Years Resolution a few years ago, and it was for SURE the easiest one to keep!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • K.O. Yoga April 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      One thing I don’t like as much about my current work location is that I can’t really walk anywhere. When I worked at UCLA, I used to take a walk to get frozen yogurt or coffee or just around Westwood just to get a dose of sun.

      Yes, I feel like I need to better with finding the balance between working and being able to get my work done with having fun things to keep me happy and excited :)

  2. Big Om Daddy (@namaste_bitches) April 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    The Art of Not Doing is as important as the Art of Doing. Neither extreme is good for someone. In a lot of Eastern traditions, they often say that the mind must be still like a pond. That’s cool but water that stays still gets all kinds of crap growing in it and it becomes undrinkable. I think people people who have mild depression sit around and ponder to much instead of actually doing something in their lives. I wonder if someone in Cambodia who works hard to feed his family is “depressed.”

    Taking time to not do things is equally as important. As a working professional, I am amazed how much there is a push to be busy all the time. I remember that when I used to travel from LA to NYC every month, I would notice how every traveling stiff would feel compelled to whip out their laptop and begin typing away. That is the last thing I would want to do in a cooped up plane. If bears acted like these guys, they never would hibernate in winter. It is not natural.

    The funny thing is that the Universe is perfect. I was in this mode of working every day and exercising every night. Well this week, my body told me who is boss and I got a cold which forced me to chill out. Eventually, nature wins and if you don’t listen, the signs become more drastic. One day it may be a cold and if you don’t listen to your body, the next day it could be something worse.

    Along a similar train of thought, here is a tech executive saying how its ok to leave work at 5pm

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/16/tech/web/cashmore-facebook-sandberg/index.html

    • K.O. Yoga April 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      I agree with you that it is balance. I definitely think it is problematic to just sit around and ruminate all the time and not get stuff done. It’s finding the happy medium :) People have to know themselves to know which side they tend towards and make efforts to bring themselves into balance.

      It’s funny, my friend posted an article a little while ago that was in defense of the 40 hour work week. It was saying that there has been all of this pressure for employees to work longer hours (nights and weekends) without more pay, and that actually most people stop being very productive after their 8 hours so it’s not actually worth it in terms of their output.

      And yes, the universe seems to try to us in check :)

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