The Almighty Power of Doing Absolutely Nothing

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This weekend, for the first time in a long time I did absolutely nothing other than things I truly wanted to spend my time doing and it was wonderful. WONDERFUL. The end. End of story.

Kidding…

Seriously though, from start to finish it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had this summer (if you’re here to tell me that summer is over, don’t bother, you’ve come to the wrong place). Even getting up early (ish) on a Saturday morning to get a lift home was enjoyable. I’m not joking when I say I think my heart skipped a beat when my boyfriend told me we would have to leave before 9am. I wasn’t bothered that he had places to be, people to see, I was too busy daydreaming about all that extra time to do absolutely nothing.

Even though I’ve recently come back from one of the most relaxed holidays ever, I don’t feel like I’ve truly relaxed without putting any kind of pressure on myself in a long time. Even on holiday I still felt under pressure to be doing certain things – pressure I only had myself to blame for and that was completely unnecessary and verging on ungrateful but pressure nonetheless.

Pressure to make the most of the beach on my doorstep despite the fact that I’m not a beach girl and the novelty wears off within about 45 mins of being there.

Pressure to go for a walk every morning to make up for the double cheeseburger I had eaten the night before for the third night running.

Pressure to finish my book only so I could start the next one that I was just as desperate to finish to move on to the next one. Who knew reading could be such a vicious, pressurised activity?

Basically, a whole lot of iconic, first world problems that were bringing completely useless and entirely pointless pressure into my life.

A few days into the holiday my mum and I got chatting about something she had read in the Huffington Post earlier that morning. It seems she was feeling under a little bit of unexplained pressure too. Pressure that only the Huffington post could relieve us of in the most intellectual way. The article was something to do with how for the first few days of a holiday or of time off us needy humans feel a little unsure of ourselves all of a sudden thanks to the sudden decrease in responsibilities, primarily not being at work. It’s a feeling I’ve experienced before but never been able to justify with an explanation. The closest I can get to explaining it is anxiety that’s met with guilt for feeling anxious while on holiday that’s then combined with what I thought was a strange twinge of homesickness. Turns out it was feeling like a sudden lack of purpose that had my mum, me and the Huffington Post readers and writers in a bit of a tizzy.

At the time I had just moved home from Dublin following 6 months of interning for a magazine. I was still trying to settle back into life at home and establish some sort of routine for myself. Work wise I was doing some freelance copywriting but had nothing more stable than freelance life to keep me going. Overall things were feeling very unsettled.

It feels as though the entire summer and to be honest, most of the last 18 months have been very all over the place which reassuringly, seems to be a relatively common feeling among people my age. A lot of it has been amazing and I’ve had some incredible opportunities but there’s also been a lot of moving about, hopping from internship to internship and feeling overwhelmed in between. By the end of my most recent internship I was feeling burnt out and craving a bit of stability. I wasn’t even enjoying blogging anymore. I hated doing blog shoots but knew I needed to up my game to stay relevant in the evolving NI blogging scene. The weirdest part of it all was that the girl who was once desperate to get away from Northern Ireland was suddenly ready to chill out for a while, slow down and enjoy the familiarity of home for a while.

After getting over the initial ‘out of sorts’ feeling and pressure inflicted by having a lack of purpose, the real relaxing began and boy, did I relax hard. You know it’s a hard life when you suddenly can’t imagine life without your morning walks along the boardwalk, iced coffee in hand and your book to keep you company during your little pit stop at the pier. Blog ideas were suddenly flowing, new projects I wanted to try and get stuck into were taking over my every thought and thankfully, anxieties over the unsettled state of my life subsided into excitement – as it should be at 21 years old.

Upon return from my holiday, the company that I had been freelancing for offered me a job as a full time employee. My first permanent, full time job. I was buzzing, a little surprised by the sudden change of direction that my involvement with the company had taken but overall incredibly excited about new projects they had on the horizon and that I would get to be part of.

I’ve been working for them for a few weeks now and while it’s been busy and there’s been the usual adjustment phase of a new job, something clicked last week and I let go of some of the pressure I was putting on myself. I spent Saturday sat in my sweats, make up free all day. I watched reality tv without any sense of guilt. I let my phone run out of battery without stressing. I spent the afternoon reading a new book and absorbed the beautiful pages from the September issues of my favourite magazines. I ate Chinese for dinner without a single shred of regret. The best part of it all is that I feel all the more productive today because of it.

While my idea of the perfect weekend probably sounds tragically boring to most, I definitely lean towards the introverted scale of things so time to myself is important for my mental health (and for those around me). Honestly thoug, introvert or no introvert, I couldn’t recommend more taking the time blocking out your diary to do absolutely nothing. Dedicate your entire day to being completely selfish with how you spend your time. Your only plans for the day are spending time with yourself. It doesn’t have to be every weekend, it could be every month or every couple of months. Whatever works for you. Just promise me you’ll give it a go.

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Niamh ♥

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