Have you ever caught yourself stressing over stress? You know you should relax, but you’re looking at all these Instagram posts of other people who seem so much better at relaxing than you are, and before you know it you need to find a way to calm down from your attempts to calm down. There’s so much competing advice about what counts as self-care, and most of it seems to be more about what we buy (crystals!) or services we solicit (massages!) than it is about, you know, chilling the heck out.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by all that noise, what if you had a “Do Less Day”? That’s a day off where you, quite literally, do less than normal — but more than that, it’s a time to slow down and reflect on the impact of a few quiet, deliberate choices.
Robert Simakovsky, the marketing manager of Reboot, the non-profit organization that leads National Day of Unplugging explains that “our minds are constantly ‘on’ because we’re able to switch from checking emails, to watching a video, to texting a friend within seconds.” Whether or not you can take an entire day away from your phone, it’s worth starting by committing to a screen-less portion of your do-less day. Simakovsky adds, “Taking some time to unplug allows us to be fully in the moment, wherever we are.” Start with an hour and work up from there.
Jessica McGruder, a certified yoga instructor, compares our minds and bodies to computers: “If you never turn off your computer, it will begin to slow down. Once you turn off the computer and allow it to reboot, the performance increases tremendously. Our minds work the same way.” McGruder sees the benefits of a regular yoga practice as being constant, both on and off the mats. If you have a mat at home, and you know a few poses, you can do just five to ten minutes of yoga at the start of your “do-less” day; even sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and your breathing intentional will bring your attention back to your body. But you can use McGruder’s advice about the computer as a guide to your do-less day: you are rebooting the computer so it can run better long-term.
Commit to a “do-less” day by thinking about what’s essential to you, not just what looks nice on a Pinterest board. That could be as simple as turning your phone off so you can focus on a few chapters of a book you’ve been wanting to read; playing music while you prepare a simple, healthy meal; or taking time alone to breathe. What would you do with your day if you didn’t feel the need to share what it was? If it was just for you? Do that.
Once you’ve settled on a “do-less” routine that feels right to you, think about applying the principles to your everyday life. Kaytlyn Sanders, a Seattle-based work/life balance coach, recommends “automating” as many small decisions as you can as early as possible: what you’ll wear, what you’ll eat. She recommends allotting yourself more travel time than you think you’ll need (to avoid stress!), and then enjoying any extra time at an even pace (bring a book!) Candles are great, and massages even more so, but nothing feels as good as getting extra time back.