The surprising benefits of intentional idleness

Relax and Do Nothing: The Surprising Benefits of Intentional Idleness


Ever feel like you just need a break to do absolutely nothing? Turns out science says you should give in to that urge more often. There’s a new movement gaining popularity that promotes intentional idleness - taking time to just be instead of constantly doing. The Dutch call it niksen, which means doing nothing of use. Sounds pretty great, right?

The idea is simple: take moments each day to let your mind wander without purpose or productivity. Put down your phone, step away from your to-do list, and just exist. While it may feel unnatural at first, niksen has some surprising benefits. Studies show it can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost creativity, and even improve your resistance to illness.

So next time you feel the urge to relax and do nothing, don’t feel guilty. Give in and reap the rewards of intentional idleness. Your mind and body will thank you.

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The Do Nothing Movement: Rest for Improved Productivity

The "Do Nothing Movement" is all about intentionally doing nothing for periods of time to reap the benefits of idleness. The idea is simple: take time each day to just be, without purpose or productivity. Let your mind wander where it will.

Proponents of this radical rest argue that constant busyness and excessive stimulation are damaging our well-being. By spending moments each day disengaged from the frenzy of life, we can lower anxiety and stress levels. Studies show that idle time enhances creativity and problem-solving abilities. Some of our greatest insights come when we stop actively searching for solutions.

To get started, set a timer for just 10-15 minutes a day of doing nothing. Find a quiet, distraction-free spot and make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, relax and let your thoughts drift. Don't check your devices or do any chores. The time will pass quickly, so you may want to extend it over days or weeks as you get accustomed to purposeful idleness.

While it can feel unproductive or even uncomfortable at first, doing nothing has real benefits. It leads to improved focus, better memory, and increased resilience. Your idle mind can make unexpected connections that spark new ideas or reveal answers you've been searching for. Regular rest also strengthens your immune system, helping you avoid burnout and stay healthy during busy periods.

In our fast-paced, productivity-obsessed culture, doing nothing may be the most radical act of self-care. Build moments of rest into your daily routine and discover the surprising benefits of intentional idleness. Your mind and body will thank you.

How Doing Nothing Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Doing nothing on purpose can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels. When you intentionally idle, your mind gets a chance to rest and recharge.

  • Your body's stress response deactivates. When you have unscheduled time, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, stress hormones like cortisol drop, and your muscles relax. This gives your body and mind a break from the constant "fight or flight" mode.
  • Your mind wanders freely. Daydreaming and mind wandering activate the brain's default mode network, the part involved in self-reflection and imagination. This free flow of thoughts leads to increased creativity and insight.
  • You gain a new perspective. When you have time to simply "be" without an agenda, it allows for mindfulness and presence. This can help you gain a more balanced view of stressful situations and challenges in your life.
  • Your productivity and focus improve. Counterintuitively, idling and daydreaming make you better able to focus when you need to be productive. Your mind needs downtime to consolidate memories and process information.
  • You may get new ideas. The relaxed, idle mind is fertile ground for new insights and "aha moments". Many great thinkers, scientists, and artists throughout history have had breakthroughs during periods of intentional rest and daydreaming.

So do yourself a favor and schedule in some idle time. Put away your devices, find a cozy spot, and let your mind do whatever it wants to do. Your stress levels—and your health—will thank you.

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Strengthen Your Immune System by Relaxing

Take Time to Relax

Intentionally doing nothing and embracing idleness has surprising benefits for your health. When you give your mind and body time to rest, your stress levels decrease and your immune system gets a boost.

Taking short breaks to relax improves your body's ability to fight off illness. When you're stressed, your body produces cortisol and other hormones that can suppress your immune system. By relaxing, your body stops pumping out these hormones, allowing your immune cells to function properly again. Studies show that people who take time each day to unwind have fewer colds and recover faster when they do get sick.

  • Do light exercise like yoga or stretching
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Take a warm bath
  • Get a massage
  • Listen to calming music
  • Spend time with loved ones
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Whatever you find relaxing and rejuvenating, make time for it each day. Even just 15-20 minutes of downtime can help strengthen your immunity and overall health. Your mind and body will thank you.

When you embrace moments of leisure and let your mind rest, you'll likely feel less anxious and stressed. Your thoughts won't be racing, your muscles can unwind, and your breathing slows down. This state of relaxation has significant benefits for both your physical and mental well-being. Take time each day to do nothing at all - you deserve it and your health depends on it!

The Simple Act of Doing Nothing Has Mental Benefits

Doing nothing intentionally has significant mental benefits. Taking time to rest your mind allows it to recharge and renew itself. ###Reduced Anxiety

When your mind is idle, your anxiety levels decrease. Our minds are constantly processing information and worries, even when we don't realize it. Giving your mind a break from this constant stimulation calms your thoughts and eases anxiety. Sitting quietly without distractions gives your mind space to unwind and release any pent up stress or worry.

Improved Focus

Counterintuitively, rest increases your ability to focus. Idle time rejuvenates your mind and strengthens your attention span. When you return to an activity after a rest period, you'll find yourself more focused and productive. Your mind will be recharged and ready to work efficiently.

Increased Creativity

Idle minds are playgrounds for creativity. When your mind wanders freely, new neural connections are formed. These new connections lead to innovative ideas and "aha!" moments. Some of the most famous stories of creativity and problem-solving coming during moments of rest and daydreaming.

Better Memory

Downtime also boosts your memory. While resting, your mind consolidates and organizes memories. When your mind is overstimulated, it has trouble transferring short-term memories into long-term storage. Giving your mind a chance to pause allows it to cement the memories you've created throughout the day.

Doing nothing is an easy way to give your mind a break and reap big benefits. Even taking short periods of 5 or 10 minutes a day to sit quietly without distractions can help reduce your anxiety, improve your focus and creativity, and strengthen your memory. An idle mind really is a happy, healthy mind.


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FAQs About the Do Nothing Movement and Resting Idly

What exactly is the “Do Nothing Movement”?

The Do Nothing Movement is a new lifestyle trend promoting intentional idleness and inactivity. Followers take time each day to simply rest and do nothing of purpose. The idea is to give your mind a break from constant stimulation and let your thoughts wander freely.

Why is resting idle beneficial?

  • Reduces anxiety and stress. Spending time unoccupied calms the mind and body, decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Boosts creativity. Idle time gives your mind space to make new connections, leading to those “aha!” moments of inspiration or insight.
  • Improves health. Resting helps recharge your body and mind, strengthening your immune system and resilience. Studies show people who take more leisure time tend to have lower rates of heart disease and live longer.

How do I practice the Do Nothing Movement?

It’s simple. Set aside time each day with no plans or scheduled activities. Find a comfortable spot, limit distractions, and do nothing in particular. Some ideas:

  • Sit outside in nature. Listen to the sounds around you and observe the little details.
  • Lie in bed awake. Let your thoughts drift and daydream.
  • Do a simple routine task like showering, brushing your teeth or making tea without rushing. Focus on the sensations and be fully present in the moment.


  • How long should I rest idle? Start with just 5 or 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 20-30 minutes as you get more comfortable.
  • What if I feel restless or bored? That’s normal. Stick with it and the discomfort will pass. Your mind and body need time to adjust to stillness.
  • Do I have to sit still the whole time? Not at all. Feel free to change positions, stretch or move around in a leisurely, unhurried way. The key is to avoid productivity or purpose.

The Do Nothing Movement reminds us that it’s okay to slow down, switch off and recharge. In our fast-paced world, making time to rest idle each day can be a radical act of self-care. Give your mind and body the gift of leisure—you deserve it!


So there you have it, doing nothing can be surprisingly good for you. While being constantly busy and productive is often seen as a virtue, taking time for intentional idleness is vital for your wellbeing. Giving your mind space to wander aimlessly helps reduce stress and boost your health. The next time you feel overwhelmed or burnt out, give yourself permission to relax and do nothing. Find a cozy spot, limit distractions, and just be. Your mind and body will thank you. Doing nothing might just be the most productive thing you can do.

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