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Idle Minds and Stress: Is There A Connection?

“Idle minds are the Devils Workshop.”

I heard this proverb recently and it sparked some reflection.  Another version of the proverb uses idle hands, but the idea is the basically the same.  Typically it is referenced with the idea that the mind and hands will become sinful if not kept busy.  Don’t stop…or those thoughts will attack your mind.  To me, there’s a disconnect in this angle.

So what is it about idleness really?  How many people have you met that cannot sit still, must be always doing “something” or going “somewhere”?   From a stress management point of view, that kind of activity is multi-tasking without meaning, and leads to the same physiological responses as chronic stress:

  • blood pressure issues,
  • digestive issues,
  • sleep issues,
  • short term memory issues,
  • brain activity issues and
  • depression issues

What does the proverb really mean?   Multi-tasking without meaning seems more like running away from everything.  Juxtapose these other two quotes and let’s examine their slant.

However, a busy mind at work, at school or both will stay occupied and will go about life in a happy typical manner, NOT falsely imagining problems in their life.

Idleness means you have no particular goal in mind and thus you can be easily distracted.

Idleness” may be more about the lack of a goal, purpose or direction in life; not the amount of activity we have in that life.  Living life without meaning is merely existing as the Hildebrant’s Principle suggests:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

The Circle of Balance model introduced in Dancing Away Stress, supports the concept that when you are engaged in purposeful, life-balancing activities aligned with your goals, values and passions, you are reducing stress.  So idleness is more than concern about being inactive, its more about the pursuit of activities that are not supporting your goals, passions and purpose in life.

Circle of Balance

How do you know if you are engaged in life-balancing, meaningful actions?  The following activity from Dancing Away Stress will give you some insightful directions:

Activity: Discover More of Your Passion
Benefits: Fills you with life and purpose, and gives you a really good reason to get out of bed every morning.
Directions: Research is supporting what the soul inherently knows.  When you have a purpose – a passion that is a cause or meaning outside and bigger than yourself; your life is more fulfilled.
Answer these questions to find more of your passions:
A. What activities give you energy and joy?
B. What activities make you feel complete?
C. What activities fill you with a sense of purposeful meaning?

Now when you are faced with idleness….choose the activities that will give your life meaning, joy and purpose and most critically, help you manage the stress that pulls life out of balance.

And as always….dance with your soul!  Dance is the hidden language of the soul….Martha Graham.

Dr Wendy Guess, PhD, CSH, CLC
Life Choreographer, Speaker, Educator, Dancer
Dr Wendy Guess
Dr Wendy Guess
Drawing on the fields of marketing, anthropology, health, wellness and dance along with some wacky life adventures, Dr. Guess shares inspiring and do-able healthy change and healthy marketing. She consults, travels and coordinates the Health and Fitness Marketing Certificate program at FIU.

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