If you’ve ever wanted to get away from your office for an hour in the middle of a stressful workday to … well, do nothing, now’s your chance.
The Stress Less Space opens Sunday in the Medical Arts Building at 16th and Walnut Streets. The women-only, members-only room has a couch for napping, a basket of the latest best sellers to browse, and an online library of meditation exercises you can access on your smartphone. Or remove the distraction and have a staff member hold your device while you relax.
And, of course, if your idea of relaxation is staring out the window at the clouds for an hour, you can do that, too — for just under $200 a month.
“Doing nothing” is having a moment. A recent New York Times article outlines how occasional idleness can make us more creative problem-solvers. The new book How to Do Nothing encourages readers to stop valuing activities by how “productive” they are. The message is: Put down the smartphone and sit in the park.
“The trend of doing nothing is in response to this notion that 'busy' is the new status symbol,” says Stress Less Space founder Carlee Myers. “If you're not working, hustling, side-hustling, or constantly moving, society perceives that you are less valuable.”
The result, Myers says, is that burnout is at an all-time high. The Kensington stress-management coach noticed that in the women she worked with; exacerbating their problem was a lack of space in which to unwind.
“I kept hearing women say, ‘Your talk was so great! I’m going to go home and take a bubble bath and make sure that the door is locked so the kids don’t interrupt,’” Myers says. “One lady told me she was going to meditate in a closet.”
The Stress Less Space is Myers’ remedy to the situation. For a $197 monthly rate, members get three 50-minute private sessions to do nothing in the space, plus an individualized plan to manage stress, and access to an online community. (For $247 a month, you get an extra session.) The majority of the membership fee goes to cover the cost of renting the space, which Myers chose for its proximity to a dense business district with, one imagines, lots of stressful offices.
The space is decorated in neutral shades and calming blues. Framed prints of abstract art hang on the walls. Visitors can snuggle under a plush blanket for a nap, or sip a cup of tea prepared in the waiting area. There’s even a box of tissues for particularly bad days.
Myers said the space differs from coworking and meditation spaces in that it encourages users to explore different ways to relax: Coloring books, puzzles, and knitting are just a few options. Those in need of external support can phone a friend.
If it draws enough interest, Myers said, she would consider eventually offering a relaxation space for men. But for now, she just wants women to try relaxing in a space free from the patriarchy.
“If you’re trying to relax and you walk out of the space to see a man, it can change the dynamic,” Myers said. “I just want to exclude that anxiety.”
Interested women can take a free tour from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Myers will also offer guided relaxation exercises on the hour.
“The goal here is to give you the space to do those one or two things you need to do to unwind,” she said. “We’re encouraging women to connect.”