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.
My recent week off from work coincided with a busy time in my personal life. We began moving to a new home. At the same time, we were preparing to plant a small orchard. Nevertheless, I was determined to capture periods of quiet time, and to take at least one full day of much needed rest.
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?
I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. With love, Sandra
Image: © S. Pawula