You know when it’s one of “those days”...
You have a million and one things on your ever-growing to-do list.
You feel like you “should” be working harder, being more productive, more focused, more motivated. Or you “should” be blogging, networking, or working on one of those many project ideas you have to further yourself, your relationships, your career - you name it.
And through it all, dishes, laundry, and your unmade bed are also looking at you expectantly, judging you and nudging you, “well?”
But it’s one of those days, and you can’t bring yourself to do any of it. You don’t feel motivated. Your energy feels like its laying in that heap of laundry piled up. Everything just seems a bit overwhelming.
Though part of you recognizes that this is temporary and it will pass, in the moment you feel stuck in the mud, like the “blahs” will hold you captive forever. The worst of it is feeling "unproductive," doing nothing, wasting valuable precious time or getting lost in social media.
But the biggest crime of all: you can’t even enjoy this as real recharging downtime because your slave-driving critic is beating you down for whatever you’re not doing right now. That inner critic of yours is so clever she even gets you to feel bad about not having fun during this break from “real” work.
Ok, so it’s one of “those days.” Now what?
Maybe you’re hoping some divinely inspired guidance will drop in from the sky, or err, Facebook to show you what direction to move in and tell you where to put your energy (if you had any, that is).
When this happens - and it happens to us all sometimes - try this: reframe and grant yourself permission.
First, the reframe: your body and mind really do need downtime.
Consider this: your body needs extra rest at times to recuperate, digest, process and assimilate new information we take in, and fight off a constant barrage of allergens and illness it encounters. So here’s the thing: your body is wiser than you and knows what it needs, deciding perhaps against your ideals and wishes, that it’s just not going to do anything today. Or maybe you’ve been working really hard, doing the equivalent of a Crossfit marathon in your head and your mind needs to truly rest.
Our culture promotes constant activity, movement, and a go-go-go mentality. But that’s not sustainable or even effective. There is this pervasive cultural anxiety and guilt associated with the perception of “wasting time” when not engaged in activity.
Collectively, we are in real need of reconsidering and re-balancing the way we use our time and energy. The active masculine “yang” energy is overly-prized while the feminine, receptive “yin” energy is judged and devalued.
Imagine for a moment what would happen if we had daylight 24/7 all the time? Our plant food sources and vegetation, animals, and we need the dark for rest and dreaming or we would all collective burn-out pretty quick.
Think about the imbalance that would occur if we are all seeking and there is no one to be found or if we're all giving and there's no one on the receiving end. The examples are endless. Performers with no audience? Using your phone but not recharging?
Be intentional with your downtime and remind yourself how the receptive, restful yin energy is a necessary counterbalance to the over-zealously celebrated active yang energy.
Remember that you will be more effective in your endeavors because of this willing to slow down and receive.
And now, give yourself permission
To come back into balance, give yourself permission for a set amount of time to do nothing.
Giving yourself permission is key. Imagine that you’re lying down to go to sleep while someone is standing in the room next to your bed yelling and ranting at you. This is often what your critical mind is doing, disrupting your downtime. Not very peaceful or restful, eh?
Set a timer with an alarm. Set it for 30 or 60 minutes or more, if you can let yourself. Make a deal with yourself that you will do your version of nothing for that amount of time. Free yourself from self-criticism and judgment. Consider this to be just as essential as the “real” work.
Take a nap. Stare out the window. Hang out on Facebook, read, whatever. You get to decide.
When that timer is up, reconsider your to-do’s. After your “doing nothing” time, you may find you feel clearer, more decisive and motivated as to what happens next. It might not be on “the list.” Maybe it’s reading a chapter of a book you’ve been wanting to read, watering the plants, or going for a walk outside. You may even realize you need to give yourself still more downtime.
What happens when you give yourself permission and stop fighting & judging it.
Often these times of doing “nothing,” these “unproductive” times turn out to be the most productive times. When the judgement is quiet and on pause, the body, mind, and soul can really take in and benefit from the rest.
Relaxation promotes recharging, recentering, reconnecting with your body and soul. From the fertile, feminine yin space that is allowed to just "be," new awareness, insights, and ideas are born.
Begin your experiment with the feminine side of your nature by giving yourself permission to experience some short periods downtime.
Want to really shift your perspective on the “blahs”? Come to Spain with me this fall and give yourself a chance to rebalance your energy and your attitude in a powerful way.