The practice of relaxing

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The practice of relaxing

Does the idea of finding time to “relax” fill you with more anxiety?


Some people say that relaxation causes them stress. There is pressure to do it all including scheduling time for relaxation. Or, as this pandemic stretches on to an unknown end, taking time to relax almost feels like an exercise in futility. As a principle here at Conscious Pause, we support the idea of planning for pauses and rests with intention, but putting too much pressure on yourself to relax NOW and feeling you should relax actually leads to the opposite outcome.

Sometimes we need to get out of our heads. The never-ending to-do list taunts you and you feel you can’t fully relax until your to-do list is under control. I find sometimes when I sit down to rest or read, ideas, anxieties, and to-dos rush in. I am working on finding ways to not let them sabotage my moment of pause. I now carry a post-it pad with me and when those ideas pop in, I write them down. Although, a friend recently introduced me to a book about a new way of thinking about to-do’s and time management called 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman so I may come back to this practice and reconsider it. But for now, it helps me to empty that thought from my mind.

But what if relaxation is not a to-do list item but more a state of being? If we were to navigate life with a state of ease and focus on resting more, would some things on your to-do list change their priority? Does your current to-do list even reflect the life you want to be living?

Or, maybe relaxation is a practice that we have to do on a daily basis even when life continues to be a hot mess. We have heard the word “hangry”  to describe when you are hungry and it leads to anger or irritableness. How about this word – “ slumpy”? Could it describe when you are sleepy or tired and thus grumpy? No one wants to be slumpy. Just like food helps with hangry-ness, rest and relaxation can help with “slumpy-ness.”

There is no perfect way to relax or pause. Our culture often demands we find the ideal environment or time to do something. I feel like I have been trying to learn to slow down my life for over 6 years and it is just starting to be designed in a way that is feels something looking like my desired life rhythms.

Society has a lot of unhelpful narratives about rest and relaxation. So let’s counter those narratives.

  • Relaxation is not laziness. These are natural needs for our health and well-being.
  • Relaxation is not selfish. We can only be our best self when we give our body and soul the nourishment it needs and that is usually rest.
  • And most importantly, relaxation is not a reward for hustling and working hard. It is something as critical as food, water, and shelter.

When was the last time you truly relaxed? How did it feel? What were the areas of resistance to taking the time for it? Maybe now is a perfect time.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

– Mahatma Gandhi





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