Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Master the Art of Quiet Time Off

Ahanalui Warm Pond

Ahanalui Warm Pond, Hawai’i

When busy stops it can be a shock.  It takes time to acclimate to quiet time off.  At first, you might find yourself looking for something to do.  In fact, in the face of free time, there’s the temptation to shift the focus, but still keep doing too much.

Downtime is one of the best ways to reset your nervous system, defuse stress, and give your health a boost.  But these days, we almost need a primer to relearn how to stop.  Here are some of the quiet indulgences I enjoyed intermixed with more ideas I’ll be trying out in the coming weeks.  Maybe these tips will help you master the art of tranquility too.

10 Ways to Enjoy Your Quiet Time Off

1.  Do you need sleep?  When there’s nothing to do, you might suddenly discover how tired you actually are.  You deserve to sleep late and take a limitless number of cat naps. I slept till noon one day and didn’t think twice.

2.  Practice the art of doing nothing.  Sit still and bring your senses alive.  Listen to the wind as it sifts through the trees, perk up at the taste sensations of your next meal, feel the sun penetrate your skin, bask in the sensual life.

3.  Go slowly.  Whatever you do, slow it down to half-pace.  Dare to feel what it might be like to live at a reduced velocity.

4.  Sit still after meals. Instead of routinely popping a pill for indigestion or heartburn, try allowing ample time for digestion.  Sit quietly for 10-30 minutes after a meal.  Can you stop yourself from jumping right up?

5. Practice mindfulness.  There’s no better time to practice mindfulness than when confronted with wide-open space.  Observe what tugs at your sleeve. Be aware of the habits of your mind, words, and deeds now exposed ever so nakedly.

6. Putter.  You don’t have to do nothing at all.  You could learn to putter instead.

7.  Soak in the healing qualities of water.  I luxuriated in a lava-heated, mineral-rich pond almost every day for up to an hour at a time.  You can create a similar experience with an Epsom Salt bath.

8.  Casually pull weeds.  Don’t fret over your begonias, plan your next vegetable patch, or attack your weeds ferociously.  Just enjoy the simplicity of pulling weeds while keeping your mind free of excess thought.

9.  Pause for afternoon tea.  Experiment with a daily tea ritual, which creates space for an infusion of slowness into any overly busy day.

10.  Test your capacity for silence.  How long can you go without talking?  Is it 5 minutes or 50?  A day or a whole weekend?

When you attempt to be quiet, emotions may arise like loneliness or fear.  And, restlessness may manifest at the bodily level.   Simply be aware of whatever arises in the continuum of your mind or in the physical realm.  Let it pass by like a cloud in open space.  Despite the strength of its allure, in essence its impermanent and can never last.  Have the courage to remain like a mountain while all else speeds past.

Our bodies and brains need the restorative effect of quiet time off.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could take a week or more off?  But don’t worry if you can’t.  You can also benefit from an hour, a day, or a weekend of quiet time – whatever you can pull off.

When’s the last time you had quiet space in your life?  Do you integrate quiet regularly or does it scare the heebie-jeebies out of you?

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

Image:  © S. Pawula


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  1. Great tips Sandra!
    I’m usually surprised by how tired I am the first day or two of a retreat; like my body didn’t know until I stopped that it was actually exhausted. I’ve got a 3 week retreat scheduled for May and I can hardly wait to practice all these tips, especially #2 and 3.

    • Hi Sandi, That’s exactly what happened to me this time too! It was good to get in some extra sleep. I’m so happy you will have a full three weeks of retreat. That’s the best way to rejuvenate! Enjoy! I hope to have a longer break like that in August.

  2. Hi Sandra,

    This post is right on time!
    Given the turmoil in the news, we have to make it a priority to find our quiet time and space so we don’t get sucked into the stress.

    I had to chuckle when you said we need a primer to relearn how to stop. That’s absolutely true for me.

    I nodded in agreement with every one of your points, especially the need for sleep and getting back to those epsom salt baths.

    #10 reminds me of a time I escaped for a break to a local island, Catalina Island, and spent 3 days alone reading on the beach, walking and reflecting. The only time I spoke was to order meals. The day I returned home, I was startled at how entering the freeway to drive home from the dock shattered my calm so fast. It’s dangerous to be reflective while transitioning onto fast-moving traffic.

    #3 and #4 sound like steps I can do easily. I’ll let you know.

    • I love an Epsom Salt bath too! That’s an interesting story about your return from Catalina Island. It illustrates the reality of our modern life so vividly. And, also underscores the need to transition back carefully. All in all though, it sounds like such a lovely time!

  3. “When you attempt to be quiet, emotions may arise like loneliness or fear.”

    Often it takes several days to ‘wind down’ and enjoy time off and yes strange emotions will emerge to fill the void of silence. If we are patient and observe then the silence will return with calm, healing, and strength.

    Dan @ Zen Presence – Ideas for Meaningful Living

  4. Hey Sandra – i do have a little bit of quiet time everyday in the morning for meditation, prayers, etc. I try to do that regularly because I’m on the go most of the other time. Also, I’ve had jobs which were very stressful and intense – like campaigns and such. I’ve since switched to work that is a little bit calmer so I can actually enjoy the quiet time during the days. And I can go a bit slower.

    I have to remind myself occasionally that it’s ok to do nothing. It’s ok to just sit and breathe – my mind doesn’t have to be preoccupied every waking minute.

    • That’s so true, Vishnu: we often have to remind ourselves that it’s OK to do nothing and not fill every moment. I’m glad you have such a clear routine of quiet during your day. I know your work can be intense and I don’t know how you would stay sane otherwise. You are a good inspiration, showing us that it’s even possible to find calm in the middle of intensity. Thank you!

  5. jean sampson

    Hi Sandra. Well, I am not having to teach this semester and I am really enjoying myself! I can leave my stuff out on the tables and not worry about having to get everything cleaned up for students. As much as I love teaching, it is SO NICE to get a break every once-in-awhile!! This feels like a real vacation to me! And I didn’t have to go anywhere! 🙂

  6. Thank you for giving me the permission to give myself some time off and to do nothing… some of the ideas…we are so busy sometimes we feel guilty if our days aren’t filled with tasks.

    • You’re welcome, Donna! Isn’t it so true how we often feel guilty if we aren’t constantly active. I’m into banishing that guilt! Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. Once again we are in sync! I am enjoying the quiet in my empty nest. I loved all your suggestions. In fact, I’m going to go make some tea right now.

    Because I spend a lot of time in solitude, I spend a lot of time not talking. Yesterday I had tea with Charlotte Dixon. We got to talking about how wonderful you are! We visited for a couple of hours and had a great time. Afterwards, my throat felt raw from talking so much!

    I also like the relaxed approach to weeding!

    Good luck with your move!

    • Galen,

      I’m sure there are many things you could teach us about quiet and solitude. Going to your cabin is such a regular part of your routine and I know that’s one special place you find quiet. Now, it seems like it has extended into your life even further. I’m so happy you had tea with Charlotte yesterday. There’s nothing like two wonderful people getting together. I know what you mean about the raw throat though. That can happen to me easily as well! Thanks for adding your thoughts. I always appreciate your perspective.

  8. You are so right and so timely.

    “Our bodies and brains need the restorative effect of quiet time off. ”

    You validated one aspect of my stress reduction program – slow living. I have made time for quiet space in my life at the beginning and end of every day for years and that won’t be changing.

    As spring is finally appearing I have found myself taking breaks on the deck a couple of times each day to do nothing at all. Mini–relaxation breaks don’t take long but they bring down my stress levels. Just being without thinking is so good for me. Gazing with soft unfocused eyes where shafts of sunlight dazzle across the meadow and into the underbrush is both restful and enlivening.

    I’m into aromatherapy and homemade bubblebath is easy to make so indulge in soaking frequently. Geranium, rose, rosemary and lemon essential oils have a balancing effect on the emotions. Clary sage oil encourages calmness and peace.

    Yes . It would be wonderful to have a full week off. But I plan to make do by taking a day off each week as of May 1st, and I’m looking forward to having more time to enjoy slow living.

    Love and peace

    • Hi timethief,

      I love the idea of “slow living”! I find integrating mini-breaks throughout the day is so helpful for returning to a sane pace of life too. Thanks for the suggestions you’ve suggested here. Aromatherapy is another entirely helpful realm and easy to use. I would love to have a week off, but like you, I’m working on pacing myself and using the above methods to slow down and appreciate each moment of life.

    • Hi timethief,

      I love the whole idea of slow living. I think you regular mini “do nothing” breaks are brilliant. I’m for more of those! You really are mastering stress and showing us how to do the same!

  9. Hi Sandra,

    The warm pools look lovely. Sitting still after meals would be a big challenge for me. I find it hard enough to sit still while the kids finish eating and when I have lunch alone I finish by jumping up for chocolate to complete the meal… naughty but better than heartburn tablets possibly!

    I am working on 5 – that’s my job this year and I love the word putter. Thanks for reminding me about puttering and pottering around the place.

  10. Dear Annabel, I’ve always had the same tendency to jump up after a meal. But, I know it’s so good for our digestion to sit still for awhile. The French really know how to dine slowly and digest! These are difficult habits to change though. I’m all for a little chocolate to round out a meal. 🙂

    Puttering is fabulous. Would love to hear more about how your perfect the practice!

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