The Awkward Art of Doing Nothing

The Awkward Art of Doing Nothing

I learned a pretty cool lesson today.

The last few months have been pretty full on – 2 work trips to Fiji (to co-ordinate volunteer programs), 2 work trips to Melbourne, and a VERY busy diary full of patients on my clinic days.

My final trip for 2017 was for a 2-day functional medicine conference in Melbourne that was all about working with complex cases (it was awesome by the way!), and I arrived home in Byron Bay yesterday afternoon.

I woke up this morning, and even though my body ached and my brain was foggy, I stubbornly decided to go for a surf. It had been aaaaages since my last surf, and I’m on a bit of a get-fit mission right now, due to a couple of extra kilos that appeared after the carb-laden Fiji trips.

Jules Galloway Byron Bay Naturopath

So I packed my gear into the car and off I went. I changed into my wetsuit in the carpark, took my board down onto the beach… and then I realised:

No leg rope.

I uttered a couple of choice swear words under my breath, remembering that I’d taken it off to use on a friend’s surfboard. I never EVER surf without a leggie because the surf is too crowded here and frankly I’m not good enough. And in my foggy state, I didn’t think today was the day to try.

So I was faced with a choice. Go all the way home to get the legrope, or come up with a Plan B.

I didn’t have any entertainment – no phone, no book, nothing to distract me. But I did have a beach towel. And I was standing on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (I’m well aware of how lucky I am to live here!) This wasn’t a disaster – this was an opportunity. A chance to practice mindfulness. To be present. To practice the art of doing nothing. What better place to give it a go?

After being so busy lately it felt awkward and odd. Almost like I had to really force myself to sit there. I was restless – I alternated from lying on my back to lying on my front. I sat up. I flopped back down. I shut my eyes. I opened my eyes. It took a whole 15 minutes before my mind started to chill out a little.

I decided to go for a swim (without the wetsuit on!) and felt the cool, fresh ocean on my skin. I walked around in the shallows and watched the fish darting around in the clear water. I watched the surf school on their foam boards learning to stand up. The I went back up to my towel and sat again. This time I was more settled.

And you know what happened? By the end of my time at the beach, the brain fog had disappeared, I felt the corners of my mouth turning up in a smile of contentment. My chest felt less tight (had I even been breathing properly lately??). My shoulders felt like they’d dropped away from my ears too.

This whole turnaround took just 40 minutes.

Now, don’t get me wrong – surfing would have been fun too (in fact, I’m committed to heading down there again tomorrow – this time WITH my legrope!). But I also remembered the value of going out in nature just to BE. No phone, no entertainment, no agenda.

Can you make space in your week to be present in nature? Can you give yourself permission to make it a priority? Take your phone out right now and make an appointment with yourself. It doesn’t have to be a beach – you could choose a river, a park, or even your backyard. Make it happen. And watch those stress hormones just melt away.

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7 Comments
  • Assunta
    Posted at 02:17h, 18 November Reply

    Such a great post and wonderdul reminder to just be.

  • Lisa | Mummy Made.It
    Posted at 18:55h, 21 November Reply

    I’m so jealous that you get to have your chill sessions at the beach! I always struggle to turn my brain off …i must try more often!!

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 19:00h, 21 November Reply

      It’s definitely worth trying to find that off button 😉

  • Maria Perkins
    Posted at 09:56h, 06 December Reply

    Hi Jules , I came across your blogs a few weeks ago and am very interested in your thoughts regarding my situation.
    My daughter who’s 17 was diagnosed with pyrole disorder (24) almost 3 years when she was continually getting sick. She was also diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and is intolerant to gluten, diary, egg and yeast. At the time we were under a functional doctor who prescribed extensive supplements around 20 per day. At first Olivia would take these and also followed the gluten, dairy free, egg free diet etc, but after a period of 9 months got so sick of it as she was longing to be normal like other kids her age. So after 6 – 9 months, gave up on any more supplements, diet and ate what ever she likes such as her favourite bread, pasta and pizza diet. She dislikes vegetables and does not incorporate many in her diet. Over the next 3 years, I made it my objective to get her through high school as best she could without getting sick. I would always encourage her to take zinc and vitamin B, immune tablets. She would take them sometimes. I would sneak in gluten free flour where ever I could. In the early days my daughter would sleep in till early afternoon a few times a week but this has significantly improved now. .
    My daughter was determined to be normal and my husband did not want conflict and so believes that I have gone over the top with Olivia’s condition and doesn’t believe she has anything wrong with her as she hasn’t been getting sick much over the last few years. I tell him that I have been managing her without her knowing but he doesn’t believe me or see that..
    Olivia has now finished high school and wants to go to university next year to do a double degree in nursing/midwifery. I feel that I have done as much as I can and cannot do anymore unless my daughter and my husband understand the situation and want to be helped. This situation has killed our mother daughter relationship and does not want any of my advice. Its made worse when my husband puts me down in front of my daughter as he cannot handle conflict. .
    I’ve been accused by my husband that I look for problems. That angers me so much as he doesn’t know me at all. I’m the type of person if there is a health problem, then do what you need to do to get to a healthy state. I had glandular fever when I was 24 and did all that I needed to recover.
    My daughter has had a cold and chest infection now that doesn’t want to go away for over 2 and 1/2 weeks. Has been on a course of antibiotics prescribed by a local GP who doesn’t know her history. My husband says she needs another course of antibiotics. I’ve tried to remind him of her condition and the need to understand and have her treated for that. I would like him to go and see my Dr who is also a functional doctor and knows Olivia’s history. He says he doesn’t believe in any of it and will not go to any doctor.
    I asked him then why did our daughter continually get sick when she was a kid, get adrenal fatigue when she was 14, intolerant to gluten, dairy, eggs and yeast, foggy brain and poor memory? I have said to my husband that if he understands the situation then he has a better chance in getting through our daughter.
    I feel that I cannot get involved anymore but it breaks me to see someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. My doctor feels that’s its only when my daughter wants help that she will seek help. I agree with this but it could be years down the track and the consequences could be greater.
    Would like to know your thoughts.
    thank you

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 11:01h, 13 December Reply

      Hi Maria,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation and the stress that it’s causing your family. However, I have to agree with your doctor on this one – you’ve done everything that you can do, and it’s up to your daughter to choose her own path. I too have family members who just don’t “get it” and I understand how frustrating it can be, especially when they are unwell and we are sure we know the solution.

      But it’s not always up to us. Your daughter might come around in her own time. Until then, focus on maintaining a good relationship with her and with your husband. Be there for them, love them and care for them without judgement. If things are bad, perhaps consider relationship counselling?

      I wish you all the very best, and I hope your daughter finds the help she needs when she’s ready.

      Jules xo

      • Maria Perkins
        Posted at 10:52h, 14 December Reply

        thank you Jules! xx

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