Is it easy for you to relax? I mean… really relax? Many of us struggle to completely relax. We feel guilty if shut off our phones and don’t respond immediately to the demands coming to us via technology. We look around our homes and see a growing to-do list. We tell ourselves that *this* (project, paper, email, laundry) MUST be done right now or else!
Have you ever wondered… or else… what? Or else the world will stop spinning? Or else you will lose your job? Or else people won’t love you? Are any of those real? In the majority of cases, no. But we tell ourselves this thing, whatever it is, must be done now. Even if it means no rest or relaxation. In fact, some of us tell ourselves we don’t deserve rest or relaxation until the list is completed. But the problem can be, the list is never complete.
This is definitely something I think about as I transition from the school year where I teach, hold appointments and write. Now I’m full steam into summer mode where I’m only holding appointments and writing. This has given me reason to think about down time and relaxation.
Why it is essential for you to relax
Down time is critical for your well being, success and mental health. Without time to relax and recharge, you are like a car whose driver who never takes the time to service the car. You can go for a while and there will be no evidence of any problems. No problems, that is, until your car either seizes up or breaks down. At this point your car is out of commission for longer than the service appt would have taken.
The same will be true with you. If you run and run, you can sustain it for a while. But your body, mind and soul will eventually show the stress. You will make mistakes, get sick or cause accidents. The time off required will far exceed the time it would have taken to restore yourself. And you won’t have nearly the fun!
You’ve heard of recreation, right? Think of the words used to make that word. RE – CREATE. By recreating you tap into the energy of creation. You can create new ideas and new patterns! You can learn new skills and find healthier habits. By recreating, you are literally RE-CREATING your life.
How to break the cycle of working all the time
We all know that self-care is a must. Examples of self-care include resting. sleeping 7-8 hours per night, eating well, taking time to nourish your soul, exercising, doing things that bring you joy, etc. How can you incorporate down time, or time to relax, into your schedule without the guilt?
When I was a new teacher, I struggled with depression. I worked all the time. I put in long hours at school and then came home and worked more. I was nearly burned out in my third year of teaching. I spoke with a man who told me that ideally, life is lived in thirds. We work a third of the time. We sleep a third of the time. We relax and recreate a third of the time. This balance may not be possible every week. But this balance might be possible over the course of a year!
Keeping in mind the analogy of the car, if you don’t take care of yourself you will break down. So try these small steps that will add up to big changes in your life. You’ll be more creative, more successful, more efficient, happier, balanced, and more grounded.
- Set an appointment for yourself every day to do something relaxing for at least 30 minutes. As long as YOU find it relaxing, it counts!! It could be creating art, running, paddle-boarding, yoga, reading, writing, whatever. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to get some alone time, do it!
- Tell yourself every day, “I am worth it.”
- Remind yourself how much you respect people with firm boundaries. People may initially push back if you change the status quo, but in the long term they will respect your time much more.
- If you are self-employed, consider your schedule. If you are your own boss, go ahead and take a break in the middle of the day. Schedule it in and treat it with the same importance you treat meetings. Your clients will respect your time more if you aren’t available 24/7.
- If you work for someone else, remember balance. Yes, it’s good to go above and beyond. Yes, having a good work ethic is important. But remember they are paying you for a specific task and for a specific time. Do your work with excellence and integrity. And go home when you contract time/shift ends. It is also important to honor our families by showing up on time at home.
- If you work at home or are a home maker, set yourself up on a schedule. Have a set of things you want to do on each day of the week. Keep your schedule with integrity. If you plan to spend time working or relaxing, but notice the dishes need to be done, ignore the dishes until your scheduled relaxation time or work time ends. Setting your microwave timer to keep you on track will change your life – even if you have small children at home! I started this when my daughter was 5. Everything happened in 15-30 minute increments… including schedule time to relax. We still use the timer!
- Get help. Are there jobs you are doing you don’t love? Consider hiring some help. You will help someone else’s economy and have more time to do the things that bring you joy.
- Be gentle with yourself. If you have been working 24/7 and never giving yourself time to rest, this will feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Be patient and keep trying. You’ll probably feel so much better almost immediately that you’ll be more motivated to schedule more time. AND you’ll probably realize you are able to get just as much done but you will be considerably less stressed.
I’d love to hear from you!! In the comments below, share with us tips you have for relaxing! Or let us know about challenges you have. I’ll respond to every comment.
Do you REALLY struggle to relax? I can help. Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that helps promote balance and relaxation in your body. It is very relaxing and healing. It even works over a distance! To learn more about reiki click here.
Do you enjoy growing, meditating, and having tine to really know yourself? Check out the ultimate in personal growth and healing: The Empowered You Course. Enrolling now for the summer weekend series beginning on July 23. Next series will be offered in September.
All my love,