It isn’t very often that I am absolutely and completely useless. I can usually pull myself together enough to do a chore or work on something creative. In fact, the act of completing a small goal helps bolster self-worth and a positive mental state. However, today was an empty day. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained of function.
With chronic illnesses, there is a lot of recovery time for simple tasks. I’ve written about it before and it will continue to be a theme in my posts because it’s important to acknowledge the difference between recovery and laziness. There is a stigma in many industrialized countries about movement. We are expected to be in perpetual motion. Moving your body, testing your endurance, doing mental exercises, planning what’s next, leaving emotional moments in the past, finding something (or someone) better, and always reaching for more are daily mantras. We are fed a constant diet of nothing is good enough and you should ALWAYS be working on yourself, in everyway.
Today was a nothing day. Yesterday I was overly active. Of course, this culminated with me not getting any sleep. That killer combination took me out of action. Stuff I needed to complete kept pressing on my thoughts and the stress of appearing inactive hung around like a smell. Like most people, I have responsibilities and time-sensitive things that need doing. But, I allowed myself to stop. I let the thoughts get louder but didn’t give in. My arms couldn’t shower. My mind couldn’t concentrate. My head couldn’t shake. My heart couldn’t deal with anything. So, I spent the day as a picture of so-called lazy.
I am okay with stillness. I want to be even more okay with it. I am falling in love with the beauty of tranquility and I want my stillness to turn into peace. I’m pretty skilled in the art of daydreaming (no applause necessary). Ever present pain and being forced into a new way of life makes escapism alluring. What I am searching for is to be in my moments of nothingness without feeling guilty. Placing a negative twist on silence and imagination by labeling it escapism is a 21st century weight that I carry.
I feel replenished after I zone out for a bit. My brain reboots and floods with clear thoughts. Some of those thoughts are outlandish and flirting with fantasy but others are productive and motivating. While my body never feels symptom free, getting up after a significant rest is far easier than taking 5 minutes after every activity to sit and gather myself.
It’s a little different when you spend the entire day doing mindless and sedentary activities. That level of self-indulgence and isolation provokes judgment from yourself and others. Your symptoms can also rebel in stillness. They want distractions and routine.
Doing nothing is a challenge that I implore you to try. Listen to your body yell and your mind berate as you slide into enjoying no screens, no phones, and no checklists. When I sit in nature, the moments are even better but home will do, and even a small bedroom room works in a pinch. After an entire day of ———–, I felt great. I challenged myself to accept boredom and frustration, to be okay with a little guilt. I will keep 24-hour nothingness rare and only on hand for the toughest days, but I am absolutely going to add more moments of stillness and mental freedom to my life.
Do more of nothing.