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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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The Value of Doing Nothing

March 2010

Sometimes the most valuable way you can spend your time is to do nothing. Now, all of you type A’s are jumping up and down and exclaiming that is not possible. Ah, but it is. We tend to spend so much time running around, that we do not realize how stressed we are. The more stressed we are, the less clearly we can think. Also, the more stressed we are, the more damage we are doing to our bodies. When we are stressed the hormone cortisol comes pouring out. Cortisol is designed to help us in “flight or fight” situations. Our bodies don’t recognize the difference between a charging tiger and a charging deadline. It still has the same physiological result. Too much cortisol over the years starts to break down our bodies and can cause serious health issues.

So, stop. Take a break. Do nothing. Not a thing. Sit on the couch and practice being a vegetable. This may initially be difficult for you. Practice. First take five minutes. During that time you are not allowed to plan or think or plot. Just sit and watch mindless TV. Or read a book. Or admire a piece of art. Or enjoy a sunset. Meditate if you want. Just be!

Do that every day for a week. Then do ten minutes. Keep building it up until you reach at least 30 minutes a day. Then notice how your blood pressure has reduced. How you are not grinding your teeth as much. How you are not yelling at your kids like you did before.

We need down time. We need time to relax. We need time when nothing is expected of us. It is possible to attain this but you have to give yourself permission to do so. Maybe create a special place where you get to do nothing so that your family knows exactly when you are not available.

What is really interesting, are you listening type A’s? is that when you start putting in the down time, that is when you start thinking more clearly, that is when you start using your time more effectively. You will find that by giving yourself time to do nothing, you will actually accomplish more.

Enjoy the journey!

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