It may seem a bit of an oxymoron to be reading a fitness article promoting the art of doing nothing. Though as I actively encourage and practice movement, I also believe there is a much needed balance between activity & rest and deliberate ‘down time’ mentally & physically recharges the whole self, which then benefits our fitness training.
During a training programme, the period of time in-between the sessions is almost as important as the training session itself, as it’s during the ‘rest’ period that the muscles repair and become stronger &/or bigger and we can apply that same principle to our lives in general.
Most of us know that getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial to our wellbeing but don’t consider the importance of just ‘resting’. Taking a portion of time between activity and sleep, to do – well nothing much really!
The Italian phrase for the art of doing nothing is ‘Dolce far niente’ and the Dutch call it ‘Niksen”. Neo-classical painters depicted the notion with scenes of reclining beauties, lounging on silk and fur but sadly our English culture does not celebrate such a thing, many of us would be racked with guilt to pursue such idle navel gazing, we prefer to brag about how busy we are, despite burn out being a very real phenomenon.
Time spent with no real purpose, perhaps listening to music laying on your bed or looking out over a garden or landscape, is the essence of Dolce far niente. It can aid better sleep, reduce stress & anxiety and increase productivity and performance the next time you do engage in an activity or work. Other physical advantages include a strengthened immune system, fortifying us against ailments and slowing the ageing process.
Creative ideas are also often born out of times of relaxation, take for example the Ancient Greek inventor & mathematician Archimedes who cried “Eureka” as he figured out how to measure volume – whilst taking a bath – imagine!
– This article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk