Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Art of Doing Nothing

As someone who requires constant stimulation, be it from books, Netflix or a conversation, ‘doing nothing’ isn’t something that comes easily to me. I have, however, come to appreciate the moments of quiet, where I can just close the door and breathe. At university, where there is always a person down the hall, a lecture to attend and a deadline looming, quiet (and solitude) is exactly what we need sometimes.

When I talk about ‘doing nothing’, I don’t necessarily mean that you must sit watching grass grow. It is merely an easy turn of phrase to explain the idea of relaxing and taking some time for yourself, rather than continuing to be at the mercy of your seminar leaders, flatmates or society members. Once, my housemate burst into my room and tried to make me go to gym with her. I vehemently refused, stating that I was ‘busy’ and she took one look at me, curled up in my bed listening to music and scowled. While yes, I wasn’t in fact “doing anything” or, at least, “anything important” according to her, I was still busy and needed this time to myself to shut off my brain and get lost in the escapism of good music.

I urge you all to try and take a deep breath, cleanse your mind and find what works for you

I am a great believer in the premise of ‘Self-Care’, the idea of taking care of yourself however best you see fit in order to protect your personal mental health. Listening to music or maybe watching some dumb YouTube videos is my way of practicing self-care. University is often fraught with issues that can be detrimental to your mental health, particularly as it is a situation where people are away from their support systems of family and friends and are thrust head-first into a new and gruelling work environment. Furthermore, socialisation, and busying yourself with the myriad of activities that are available to you, is a key part of university life. And while this is usually what makes university so great, it can also have a strain on your mind and deplete you of the energy you need to focus on the tasks you may need to complete, or the issues you may need to deal with. Thus, self-care is extremely important.

It is very difficult to clear your mind, sit back and ‘do nothing’, particularly by yourself. But, I urge you all to try and take a deep breath, cleanse your mind and find what works for you – whether that be the music of the Arctic Monkeys or the craziness of Love Island. And, sometimes, you just need to watch that episode of Game of Thrones by yourself, without interruptions or outside influence.

Tthe next time you find yourself in need of ‘doing nothing’, I suggest retreating to your room or a comfortable space with a cup of tea, coffee or squad and read a book, watch the entirety of Pretty Little Liars (of which there are 160 episodes), start the next bestseller or, hell, maybe even write an article.

So, focus, reflect, prepare yourself for the onslaught of essays and deadlines that threaten to approach at any given time and practice the art of doing nothing.