Doing Nothing

The Brain Requires Downtime: Unstructured Time With No Goal In Mind


John Stonestreet

Kasey Leander

“For the brain to thrive, you can’t spend all your time working,” writes Jay Dixit of the NeuroLeadership Institute. “Human beings aren’t robots, and overwork leads to burnout, disengagement, and resignations.”

More than that, he says, “the brain [requires] ‘downtime’—unstructured time with no goal in mind and no targeted focus of attention.” 

That last part is important. To relax, many of us turn to screens, like our phones or Netflix, but these are all “task-positive” activities: they require the brain to focus, even if it’s on irrelevant things.  

By contrast, Dixit explains, an important half of our brain lights up and makes new connections when we’re actually at rest, which helps foster innovation and creativity.  

Because so many distractions preoccupy the modern world, we have to be intentional to have what previous generations did.  

Perhaps it’s because God knew this quirk of human psychology that He gave the world the Sabbath and a command to rest. He knows what we need because He made us.


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