Do Nothing to Do Something for Mental Health

Do Nothing to Do Something for Mental Health
Do Nothing challenge founders are daring us to be idle for mental health. (Supplied)
Jessie Zhang

Two Melburnians are daring stressed out Australians to spend 30 minutes a day doing nothing for a month to highlight the mental health challenges people experience, particularly during a crisis.

Nearly 80 percent of Australians experienced poor mental health over the past year, according to a survey by Smiling Mind, one of Australia's leading experts for youth-based mindfulness.

In addition to the stress of lockdowns—which Melburnians Alex Wadelton and Jonny Clow know intimately after experiencing the world’s longest lockdown—not-for-profit advertising agency Silver Lining’s co-founders decided to start their own challenge because they noticed a lack of initiatives advocating people to slow down.

“There are so many amazing fundraisers for charities that encourage you to do more push-ups, feel the burn with squats, run farther, cycle longer, and so on. But there isn’t one that focuses on slowing down. So, we decided to make one of our own,” Wadelton said.

He said the challenge takes away rather than adds more things to do in your life.


“By “doing nothing” we mean you could spend thirty minutes a day simply sitting still and breathing, meditating, practising gratitude, embracing mindfulness, watching the leaves sway on a tree or anything that allows the mind to slow down and relax... away from the pressures of everyday life,” Wadelton said.

Clow told The Epoch Times that doing nothing is actually a very hard thing to do as he’s an always-on kind of person. But his current favourite way to relax is finding a view and fixating 100 percent on it.

“To me, it doesn't have to be an awesome vista—it can be a plug point, a plant or a kettle boiling. Soon you will find your mind empties,” Clow said.

Overall, their aim is to collectively achieve five million minutes of doing “nothing”, one minute for every Australian who will suffer a mental or behavioural condition this year.

But an added benefit of the challenge is encouraging men to engage in and reap the benefits of meditation.

“I've never been into meditation, and so one of the long-term goals for The Do Nothing Challenge is to get more men to embrace mindfulness,” Clow said.

The duo already has plans to take The Do Nothing Challenge from a fundraising campaign to a more holistic movement that will reduce the stigma of mental health challenges and suicide in Australia.

“We've started daily 10 minute nothing sessions called 'Zoom into Zen', and we'd love to make a documentary in the future,” Clow said.

Clow also said he would like to see everyone practising some form of mindfulness.

“Wouldn't it be great if everyone could practice gratitude and mindfulness ongoing as part of a balanced routine instead of just one month a year?”