I’m not very good at relaxing. The best example of my problem is how at the end of each day when it’s time to go to sleep, I close my eyes…and I wait. Wait for sleep to take over. For all the thoughts buzzing through my head to die down. For the light coming through the windows to not bother me, for the sounds of the house around me to stop feeling so loud and strange. For the tingling in my legs to slow so that I can drift gently into restful sleep instead of falling quickly and waking up equally abruptly.
Most of my vacations are GO GO GO. Too rarely do I have the opportunity to just sit and be and take it all in the way that I should. To appreciate the beauty and stillness of a quiet place around me. To indulge in the ease of making a meal. To sink into an afternoon of book reading. To splash and play without worrying about a schedule and what comes next.
When I was in college I practiced yoga semi-regularly, and at my second job we had a semi-professional instructor who did a weekly class. When I was diligent in my attendance, it was a physically difficult accomplishment (I’m still not sure I do downward dog as well as I should) which was capped at the end of each class with 5 minutes or so of restful relaxation in child’s pose. I have visceral memories of the stillness and tingling wonderment of lying on my mat – no cares or worries in that moment, only awareness of my body, and of how it felt to breathe in and out. It’s something I miss, and sometimes crave, but I’m not entirely sure how to get back to without finding the right yoga class that fits into my schedule which isn’t necessarily something I can do right now.
We all live busy lives. And so these opportunities to cultivate rest and relaxation, to not have a thing that needs to be done…those are moments we need to cherish. For those who can, a vacation that is not about doing all the things (like London was for us) is a good time for this. If you don’t have vacation time, or don’t have enough vacation time, or actually do want all your trips to be that go-go-go all the time, then perhaps evening/weekend/free time relaxation is something you need to work on. In any case, we should all spend more time as we are able without specific plans, doing calm and quiet activities, breathing deeply, and appreciating our lives in the moment that we’re living them. Relaxation has been shown to have not just psychological benefits, but also physical benefits that counter stress…something that is important for EVERYONE.
This week I’m working on relaxing by reading more, and trying to have less screen time (especially at night). What do you do to relax? How do you unwind at the end of the day?