Monday, October 10, 2016


Today’s to-do list: “Do nothing.”

Every day I receive an email from that starts with a positive quote, followed by an uplifting story or essay that illustrates that quote. Last week’s essay was entitled, “Today I will do nothing.” That sure caught my attention. In this fast-paced, often-frantic, stress-filled world perhaps there is nothing we need more than a day to do absolutely nothing.

It seems that everyone is too busy to “stop and smell the roses.” That’s a saying we haven’t heard in a long time.

Kids are rocketed from one activity to the next at a high velocity – from school to baseball practice, to dance lessons, to karate lessons, to a track meet, with barely enough time to squeeze in a fast food take-out burger and fries for supper. Homework is jammed in there somewhere, too.

Free time to do nothing seems to be a thing of the past, a time-waster, unnecessary, even boring.

But the frantic pace of our days leads to trouble sleeping at night. We start the process over again the next day without ever getting restored and revitalized.

Here are some ways to accept the challenge of slowing down and unwinding.

Take time to go outside and breathe in fresh air. It will clear your mind and clear your lungs. Take a leisurely walk. Look around at the beauty nature has to offer. Children have this one figured out. They notice unusual bark on a tree, heart-shaped rocks, faces in the clouds, colorful wildflowers, chipmunks scurrying, ant hills being built, splendid sunsets; it’s all there to be seen and enjoyed -- and it’s free.

Unplug from technology. For one day, take a break from computers, cell phones, all electronic devices, even television, but especially video games. Your email and Facebook posts will still be there a day later.

Relax about keeping the house in perfect order. My husband doesn’t like this suggestion, but I agree with the late Erma Bombeck who said, “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”

The late author O. Henry is credited with saying, “The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.”

We really can’t be aimless and uncalculating every day; that just isn’t feasible. But a day to do nothing once in a while may be just the remedy we all need.

Alice Facente is a former community health education nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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