Well, that’s a good question!
If I were to tell you right now to have some relaxation, what would your first reaction be?
Would you feel like relaxation is a luxury or a necessity?
The common objections that I come across are that life is too busy, work gets in the way, children, family, pets, socialising… you get the picture. To be completely honest, my mind still tricks me into the same objections and the automatic response is often to carry on working and travelling at the same crazy speed of life. Relaxation doesn’t come natural to me!
First, let me define relaxation. For me, it doesn’t have to be a day at the spa, it is more about my state of mind. I am an overthinker by nature, so when I manage to stay present and truly enjoy those fleeting moments of joy, that is when I am relaxed. It is the absence of thinking about the next item on my to do list or the next event that I need to plan, be it social or personal. Relaxation for me is when I am connected with myself, and I don’t seek the answers outside. And finally, relaxation for me is when I am recharging, and I accept my human needs for resting.
Yet, the challenge here is to identify our belief system around relaxation. In a world where productivity measures success, we have grown to accept ourselves only when we create outputs, we complete tasks and finish projects. We are, effectively, comparing ourselves to machines and computers. Another big part of our belief system is that we must look after other people and be compassionate towards others, but we are not brought up to learn about our relationship with ourselves and how to take care of our own emotional wellbeing. Therefore, our belief system has much to do with the connotations that relaxation can have: guilty pleasure, laziness, a luxury, something that you can have once or twice a year.
So many of us live our lives as if on a hamster wheel. We rush from one activity to the other on autopilot and we lose awareness. Awareness of who we are, awareness of what we truly want, awareness of our direction in life. Yet, it is when we pause that the mist lifts and our clarity comes back. We awaken to our senses, and we can enjoy what’s out there.
To the question “why should I relax” the answer is – you should NOT do anything. It is about what your needs are and about cultivating an awareness of yourself which comes when you slow down, and you step off the treadmill. I think for some people it is scary, it may feel like a fear of not being able to jump back on, but this is where slowing down is so necessary.
My invitation to you is to start the process in the gentlest possible way. 10 minutes at the time or an hour a week, whatever is reasonably possible and sustainable. With curiosity, find out what works for you, may that be sitting for a few minutes with your pet with mindfulness, a meditation, a nap, a walk or any activity where you feel you are giving yourself a break. For busy parents, busy employees, busy employers, even just a drive somewhere whilst listening to some music can do the trick – it’s about what works for you. As a side note, a book that really resonated with me was The art of rest by Claudia Hammond on this very subject.
By finding a way of slowing down regularly, you are refuelling, recharging and you are allowing awareness back into your life. You are becoming more productive, you are becoming more supportive and patient, you are strengthening your resilience.
So, this is my wish for you today: give yourself permission to relax. It is not a luxury: it is a necessity.
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