The Importance of Being Idle: 5 Ways To Create The Perfect Lazy Day

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” - Kenneth Grahame

Sometimes, the hustle of life invades our living room. The boundaries of work and play have loosened as connectivity becomes increasingly convenient. Furthermore, the expectation of leaving our personal life at home and our work at the office has become more difficult. Even harder, is allowing ourselves time to decompress.

For example, when working at my first post-college job, I felt guilty about taking advantage of paid time off.  I should be working. What if my bosses think I’m lazy? I’d take phone calls on off hours and write case notes during dinner. Even my sick days were spent answering emails.

Of course, this began to affect my health and happiness. I was anxious more often, slept less and was less satisfied while at work. It wasn’t until a coworker made me take a “mental health day” that I took self-care seriously. I channelled my inner slacker and began allowing myself to enjoy doing nothing. The more I set boundaries between work and play,  the better I felt. Now, I’m the one urging clients and coworkers to let cut themselves some slack.

While the “mental health day” is common among human service workers, I find that in many other professions it’s viewed as a weakness and can result in feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Well let me assure you, time for rest is as essential when we are well as when we are sick.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, and just burnt out by the demands of life, it may be time to say no to work and yes to Netflix. Here are five pointers to help you reclaim your free time and create the perfect lazy day.

1). Don’t Plan It. Be spontaneous, damnit! Most of our life, from preschool to the professional world, is regimented. Even our vacations are planned months in advance. If we’re going to reclaim our schedule from the oppression of the timeclock, let’s avoid the impulse to “pencil it in.” There’s a wonderful pleasure in responding to our morning alarm with a big, fat nope! This is your time. Call in to work, and if you’re feeling like an activist, tell them it’s a mental health day. Being stern about out laziness will set the tone for the rest of the day.

2). Live Off the Grid. Turn off your phone, block your Outlook page and don’t even think about checking your voicemail. You’ve checked out, your bags are packed and today will be spent in “Fuck-it-ville.” Pretend you’re Thoreau or Bear Grylls, off on a calm New England pond or treacherous jungle island. Facebook won’t save you from malaria, but it will protect you from those annoying memes from Steve.

3). Stay In Bed. All day. If not, at least keep your pajamas/sweatpants/yoga pants on. Get sucked into a new season of Extreme Couponers, meditate, or just stare at the ceiling and daydream. Whatever you do, keep the blinds shut and don’t answer the door (unless it’s the pizza guy). One of the hardest things to do as a Responsible Adult is resist the urge to accomplish something, anything. Your goals will be there tomorrow, let them have a rest as well.

Important: Guilt, responsibility and any excuse to not stay in bed will arise. Be aware that the world will not implode if we don’t clean the kitchen, check our email or grocery shop. Half the fun of taking a day off is knowing others are toiling while we rest! If you’re feeling guilty, explore it or write it out. Who’s voice or image are you seeing in your mind? Now ask yourself, do I want to end up like this person? If not, then it’s time to move onto the next step.

4). Let Yourself Indulge in Life’s Simple Pleasures. If we can’t manage to stay in bed, it’s best to stop ourselves from reorganizing the cupboard with a little diversion. First off, there’s nothing lazy about dieting or exercise, so cut yourself some slack. Today is about doing nothing. Next, mix a cocktail, order a pizza and/or eat cereal all day. Minimizing effort is essential here. Though, don’t get too carried away. Starting the next day with a hangover/indigestion will not make anyone feel “rejuvenated.”

This is the time to bust out that cake mix you’ve been hiding in the top cupboard behind the Splenda. It’s also a great opportunity to build a blanket fort, take a bath, listen to music, dance in your underwear and take a nap. If you’re feeling ambitious, stop. Just be for a while.

5). Make Time For Silence. This one if pretty straight forward: turn off the tunes, the TV and dishwasher and listen to the passing cars passing outside your bedroom window. Listen to the cat/dog/hamster snore. Enjoy the stillness. You’ll begin to notice the effect living with constant sound has on your mood. Also, silence heightens our other senses and helps align our chakras, or whatever. Truthfully, food tastes better, the air smells fresher, our slippers feel softer, and the world appears as if it’s moving slower. In silence, there is harmony and that’s what this whole day is about, isn’t it?

I understand that we all do not have the luxury of taking a full day off work or the ability to spend an entire alone. However, we can practice the ability to temportarily place ourselves in a “slacker” headspace. By doing so we allow ourselves to hang up the facade of professionalism and “put-togetherness” that can cause so much tension in our life. After awhile, we will realize the influence busyness over our own well being.

Lastly, if you need some help getting into an idle state of mind, check out the movie Clerks, Slacker, and The Big Lebowski. If you’re a reader, check out How to be Idle, The Underachiever's Manifesto and In Praise of Idleness. Building allies in the fight for do-nothingness is essential to combat the naysayers of napping! As for me, I’m gonna watch My Idiot Brother for the 26th time and make some popcorn!

Photo by Rudolf Vlkev