So, how do I relax? Rest and relaxation is an individual thing.

Changing how I view relaxation and rest time

With my January Happiness Project resolution “learn to rest” I’ve been thinking a lot about my time off. Asking myself, how do I relax? Learning to relax is, I think, going to be one of the biggest challenges I face this year. I envy those who can just switch off and relax really easily. Sometimes I don’t even feel relaxed when I’m sleeping.

Thing is, I know that cracking this learning to rest thing is going to be a huge boost to my energy and happiness levels. I know that if I can get rest right then sleep will be easier, I’ll be more productive and enjoy my life more. The fact that I can now recognise this shows the progress I’ve made. A few years ago I would have been one of those saying “there’s no time to relax, I’ve got too much I need to do”. Now I’m really trying to carve out time to rest and relax, but I often have a hard time doing it.

All I want now is to say my weekend was relaxing

It used to be that if somebody asked how my weekend was and I could answer “really busy” I’d feel proud. An ingrained notion from our society’s constant, and growing, glorification of being busy. There is so much research proving that constant busyness is not good for us, and that taking time out for ourselves is super important and actually has a positive impact on our work. But the negative image of laziness has been so burned into us, even from childhood, that those of us who (like me) really can’t stand people viewing us badly will do all we can to not be branded lazy.

This has led to me being in a place where if I’m relaxing I still feel I need to be productive. No wonder I can never feel relaxed.

There is no one size fits all answer to how do I relax?

What I’ve realised this month, as I’ve been thinking about my ‘learn to rest’ resolution, is that what rest and relaxation means is different for everyone. Plus it varies for the individual on a day to day basis too. Much like how I’ve realised there’s no single meaning for ‘Exercise Right’.

What does rest time look like?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve given myself a hard time for not relaxing right. But I can count the times I’ve stopped to think about what constitutes resting and relaxing right. One, a few days ago when I came up with this list.

 

How do I relax? Sometimes walking, long walks in the countryside. Other times reading a good book, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea. Yoga. And sometimes writing a blog or something else. Listening to my favourite music, or any music that suits the mood. Cooking, or napping, or having a bath. Being with friends or being alone. Making pancakes on a Sunday afternoon. Playing board games, drinking tea, drinking wine by the fire in a pub. Cold beer on a hot day. Journaling, browsing the Internet, watching movies. Learning new things, playing ukulele. Baking.

How do you relax? What would you add to this list?

 

What I’ve realised is the answer to the question ‘how do I relax?’ will be different things at different times. As it seems to be with a lot of things, it’s about learning to listen to myself. If I can tune in I will know what I need to do to rest in each specific moment.

What would be on your list of how you relax? Let me know in the comments below. 

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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