88 – March 29
“I work for myself, which is fun. Except for when I call in sick—I know I’m lying.”—Rita Rudner
After I had the revelation about my habit of getting sick in order to get out of commitments, I decided I had to change my behavior. I had to learn to say “No” to more things and break the cycle of over-commitment. I had to focus on my priorities, and one of them had to be my health.
I took a long, hard look at my calendar and all the activities I planned each week. I realized I was on the go too much—even with fun things. I needed more “do nothing time.” I looked at what I did on my sick days: I stayed in my pajamas, wrapped myself in a blanket, I watched TV, I read books, I napped throughout the day, I talked with friends on the phone, I ate foods that made me feel better, I drank hot tea and soup. I wondered what it would be like to have a “sick day” when I wasn’t sick? So I created “Do Nothing Day.”
On “Do Nothing Day,” I eat my favorite foods and watch videos of recent movies I really want to see. I always have several books I’m in the middle of, so I’ll read them when the mood strikes me. I might play computer games, chat on the Internet, do crossword puzzles. I sit on the patio and watch the birds. I often stay in my pajamas, or at least wear comfortable scruffy clothes. I don’t go anywhere. I don’t put on any makeup. I don’t answer the phone (it might be work related, and I’d rather not explain about “Do Nothing Day” on “Do Nothing Day.”) I drink my tea and cuddle with my cat. There is a great pleasure in lying on a bed, holding a cat with its motor running, knowing you don’t have to get up anytime soon and rush off.
After a “Do Nothing Day,” I am a bundle of energy and enthusiasm: Renewed, refreshed and once again eager to connect with the world and do the work I love.
When was the last time you took a day off just to loaf around? Put one on your schedule now.
P.S. “Do Nothing Day” is not “Chores Day.” You do not have permission to do anything constructive.
“I revel in relaxation!”
I realized that when I was a kid, I was never excused from school unless I was sick. There were no “mental health” days, or playing hookey at our house. My parents were very serious about education and following the rules and doing what was expected of us. Staying home from school just for fun would have been bad.
But when I was sick, my mom would pamper us silly. She’d fix us milk toast or cream of wheat for breakfast and chicken soup for lunch. We got to lie on the couch and watch television (all 7 channels) or read books. Mom would plump our pillows and hourly ask how we were feeling. It was rather a “Queen for a Day” experience.
No wonder I always worked hard and didn’t give myself many breaks – except if I were sick. It was just a mirror of my early training which had sunk into my brain as an oft-repeated pattern without my realizing it.
Now I have incorporated “Do Nothing” days into my regular schedule. Ahhhhh. Each one feels just as wonderful, relaxing, and a little bit decadent as that first one did. It’s become my new habit. Enjoying myself – now that’s a habit pattern I want.