I just finished reading an article on how to relax. I don’t do a single thing mentioned in the article, and I don’t expect I ever will. They all sound good but don’t fit my definition of relaxation or lifestyle. I Googled, How to Relax, and received dozens of articles giving, more or less, the same advice. Nothing I read was relaxing, that’s for sure.
Relaxing for me is hard. I’m not very good with the traditional definition of relaxing unless I’m on vacation (and then I’m a pro!).
The type of relaxation I need is the day-to-day type that keeps me in balance and in touch with who I am and my priorities. Don’t tell me to just relax as it doesn’t work that way with me. Please don’t ask me to listen to birds singing or voices moaning. I don’t want to lie on the couch and meditate because I will likely fall asleep, and I don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of the day. I’ve got a job and don’t have time for naps!
[ctt template=”3″ link=”DBb8I” via=”yes” ]Don’t tell me to “just relax” as it doesn’t work that way with me.[/ctt]
All of this caused me to hunt to find out how I relaxed when I wasn’t on vacation. I came up with very little until I changed how I looked at relaxation.
Warren and I are regular exercisers, and our preferred cardio activity is running. However, Warren likes to run with me, and I prefer to run alone. For many years I wouldn’t agree to run with him. He is much faster, has a much longer stride, and I constantly worry that my pace is too slow, and he isn’t getting the exercise he wants and needs. I also prefer to listen to music and let my mind wander. I do a lot of thinking while pounding the pavement, and I was worried that chatting while running would take away my thinking time.
Until we moved last year, I could stand firm and not go running with him. Once we left the city and moved to the country, it wasn’t safe for one of us to run alongside the busy road alone. I was worried about him, and he was worried about me. We both agreed that running alone wasn’t an option for either of us.
This meant that in order for my running to be relaxing for me, I had to change my outlook on running with my husband. Warren agreed to run at his own pace and circle back to get me if he got too far away for safety. He agreed that this wasn’t a chat session, and we would both be lost in our own minds listening to music. We were running alone, together.
And it worked perfectly for me. I still got my thinking time and my version of aerobic relaxation.
While deep in thought the other day, it dawned on me that I might be better at relaxation if I could control how I relaxed. I figured out the running conundrum, so why couldn’t I figure out the rest? Controlling how I relaxed was about how I thought about relaxation instead of what I actually did.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”UwDm1″ via=”yes” ]While deep in thought the other day, it dawned on me that I might be better at relaxation if I could control how I relaxed.[/ctt]
Check out my other new relaxation methods and see if they might work for you:
– Relaxing in front of the television has never been my “thing.” I get bored, and I struggle to stay engaged, so I look for inconsistencies in the writing or filming, and I talk throughout whatever we are watching, all of which is annoying to anyone with me. I beat myself up mentally that I can’t just plop myself down and enjoy the show.
Warren and I watch television regularly, but I didn’t enjoy it until I gave myself permission (and explained to Warren) that the best way for me to watch television was to have my cellphone in hand. I play online games. I scroll through social media. I multi-task. That is relaxing to me. I still enjoy Words With Friends (I’ve been playing with some of you for over ten years!), and I look forward to sitting on the couch with my phone. I can still watch television and still chat about it, but the multi-tasking is relaxing, allows me to stay engaged with the television show, and I’ve learned to accept that is how I relax.
– I like to cook. I’m a healthy cook and am always looking for new and exciting meals (protein and vegetables can get boring quickly if you let them.) However, I don’t like to clean up.
So I don’t. Warren is perfectly happy cleaning up, and I’ve become perfectly happy letting him. I always used to help him clean up after meals as I felt guilty watching him while I sat and did nothing, and the guilt interfered with my relaxation after dinner.
Until I changed my thought process about it. Now I walk away from the dinner table if I want to. If I want to help, I do, but I don’t help because I’m feeling guilty; I help because I want to. The entire change in my thought allowed me to relax.
– I like silence. I give myself permission to enjoy the silence and not feel that I always need the radio on to keep me up to date with what is going on. If it is a big deal event, I will hear about it. I’ve missed no major events in life because I was without the news for a day or two.
– I like to iron and not feel that I’m obsessive about it. And who cares if I am? I realized that it honestly didn’t matter what I was ironing; as long as that iron was in my hand, I was relaxed. I thought for many years that it was the fact that I loved pressed clothes that had me ironing quite a bit more than the average person. Once I stepped back and looked at it, I realized the act itself was relaxing. Send over your clothes to be ironed, and I’ll get them done for you! It is relaxing for me.
The awareness that relaxation is individual is the secret to relaxation. You don’t have to have a hot bath, listen to strange chants, or relax one muscle at a time if you don’t want to. All you have to do is define what is relaxing to you, and then accept that definition is the one you will follow and not what popular opinion tells you.
And, it’s okay if you think I’m a little crazy for enjoying the ironing. Give yourself permission to not iron and do whatever you find relaxing!