Isn’t it funny that relaxation gets such a bad rep, almost as though to relax is an affront to the idea that we should be on the go, striving for more, being the best that we can be. Whilst ambition and a want for more is by no means a bad thing, we are human, and as humans we require rest. Life can be stressful, we are faced with a myriad of things that require our time and attention but in all of that when do we take the time to have a time out? If we aren’t working, we are socialising or doing things for others – where do we assign the time for ourselves where we unapologetically and without explanation, relax? You deserve rest, it’s good for you, and it requires less time than you think. Pause and Unwind.
Take a break
Relaxation need not take up a load of your time, even a few moments to step away from something stressful or to shake up your normal routine can provide enough time and space to create distance and aid a feeling of calm. Something like running a bath, taking a walk or flicking through a good book can provide us with the time required to bring us back down to earth and enable us to tackle whatever it may be ahead of us.
Let’s depart from the idea that relaxation should be equated with stillness. There are plenty of activities that can facilitate relaxation without sitting in the same spot practicing deep breathing (though this in itself shouldn’t be dismissed as a means to an end or as an end in itself). Getting active, again going for a walk or trying out an exercise class that incorporates deep breathing and stretching, such as yoga or pilates can be relaxing.
Delve deep and bring out your inner Picasso; so many of us do not have an outlet for our creativity. Having a creative flair or natural born ability is less of a requirement than just having the opportunity to express ourselves in a way that differs your from day to day life. Write some poetry, paint the next exhibit for the Tate or belt out a tune as if you’re playing in front of 50,000. Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed by releasing energy and emotions in a constructive manner.
Take back your time
Check your calendar for the upcoming day, week, month or year. Is there an appointment or activity that you can remove entirely or at least scale back. How many of us hand out our time only to be faced with dread and enthusiasm regret when dooms day arrives. Take back your time and do so without guilt. Making time for yourself can require sacrifice and tough choices but the benefits far outweigh a couple moments of awkwardness.
In a world where everyone is constantly on the go, it can feel like a break from tradition and a departure from the crowd to take some time to do less. Whilst the idea of a time out can be anxiety inducing, the world can and will go on without you. Once you get your head around that, you realise that life is too short not to step back and take it all in: “Life is only available in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” Thich Nhat Hanh,