I’m not naturally good at doing nothing. I am happiest when my hands are busy, or I’m using my brain, or both. However, it is possible for me to achieve a level of exhaustion where I can’t do very much at all. Sitting on the sofa either gazing out of the window, or with my eyes shut, has become a regular feature of my life.
It is restorative. There are degrees of being wiped out where it’s the only feasible answer. I’m used to being able to push through pain and weariness so it is still very alien to me to find I can’t – that I am also out of the resources that allow me to push when my energy is depleted.
Compared to many people with energy problems, I’m in pretty good shape. I can count on getting a few good hours most days. Compared with how I used to be, it’s pretty grim. I don’t know if I can slow or counter this decline. It isn’t hard to imagine that in a few years, if I keep deteriorating at this rate, I won’t be able to do much at all. I’m trying not to let that happen, and the best tool I have is to do nothing.
Sometimes that feels counterintuitive. We live in a culture where ‘doing’ is usually the proffered answer. Do more, try harder, try new things, take things, do yoga… except that doesn’t help. Doing less, and doing nothing does help. Not letting my unwellness be a commercial problem to solve by buying something, definitely helps. Resting rather than striving reduces the panic that having no energy causes, and panicking while having no spare energy is a really ugly combination.
Most mammals rest. Your average mediaeval peasant had more time off than your average modern person does. We are not designed to run and run forever, and trying to do that has consequences, even for people who were well to start with.