When Doing Nothing Is Doing Something

I wanted one thing this New Year’s Eve: quiet. relaxation. Nothing to do.
Luckily, the best friend wanted the same thing.
We drove just shy of two hours away, to a small town, with a small historic inn that has a spa attached.
Yup.
There was a package: room, bottle of wine, and spa services. We brought movies and junk food. Paid for an extra night, so we didn’t even have to drive the day we went to the spa.
What a blessing to be able to do such a thing. I am truly grateful.

We both had a massage, and then a facial. And then we sat on a comfortable sofa in the spa, sipping hot tea, mostly silent. Occasionally chatting. Our phones were in a locker. We had nothing to distract either of us. We had just the tea, and the comfortable silence.

I can only completely relax when I’m not at home. It’s not that I don’t love my home; I do. But there is always something I could be DOING at home. Laundry. Cleaning out a closet. Re-arranging the pantry. Mind you-I don’t often DO those things, but I could be. I only feel totally relaxed when there is literally nothing expected of me.

And New Year’s Eve was one of those days.

The Inn was having a party-the usual, heavy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, music, watch the ball drop. Twenty bucks-such a deal! And there was literally nothing I wanted to do LESS.  Once we were done at the spa, we went back to the room, ate the dinner we had cleverly procured before going to the spa (so we didn’t have to go out), and watched the movie Postcards From the Edge, in honor of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (RIP, both).

Bliss.

The next day, when we were checking out, the young girl at the desk asked how our stay was. “Lovely,” I answered, smiling. “Did you go to the party?” she asked, as she printed out my receipt. “No!” I said. She looked at me, half startled, half confused. “Sorry,” I explained with a chuckle. “it’s just that we came here, purposely, to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“Sometimes doing nothing can be better than doing something,” she replied with a smile as she handed me my receipt.

Her comment stayed with me. It was sweet and friendly and I’m sure heartfelt, but my mind argued with her.

And here’s why.

Doing nothing IS doing something, in particular when we *choose* to do nothing to recharge our energy. That’s radical self-care–although it shouldn’t be–to intentionally do nothing.

When I first started going to my acupuncturist, over fifteen years ago, I remember at one appointment saying to her: “I was exhausted, but I had to get everything done before I let myself take a nap.”

Her response has stayed with me all this time. It was kind, yet curious, gently pushing me: “Isn’t that backwards?”

I didn’t understand what she meant. Because I had been well-socialized, as most of us have, to PUSH PUSH PUSH. Never enough. Never finished. Always do more, more, more. No, it’s not backwards. You do not get to take the nap until you get EVERYTHING done. As if that is possible.

But now I do. It took a long time, and I miss the mark a lot. I have residual guilt about self-care sometimes. After decades of pushing myself, of never letting myself really relax into self-care, that makes sense. But now the guilt is no longer in charge. It’s not making my decisions. It’s something I notice, and it makes the choice of doing nothing, on purpose, to take care of myself….that much sweeter.
That much more precious.

So try it, if you don’t already let yourself. Try doing nothing, as *something*, solely for the purpose of self-care.

I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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