Relaxation for Real People
When is the last time you did nothing? It is hard to contemplate isn’t it? It seems we are always doing something even if we are just sitting there without a twitch to our limbs. Our minds can still be whirring a mile a minute, churning out to-do lists and manufacturing worries in assembly like fashion. I don’t know about you but when I attempt to “do nothing’ I feel horribly guilty. In our “just do it” society we have been taught to aspire to be productive and useful. If I am caught doing nothing won’t I be labeled as lazy? In the time it takes to do nothing I could have saved the world through my multi-tasking efforts. But somewhere during your super valiant efforts to wash the dishes, pay the mortgage on time, bake 35 cupcakes for your kid’s class, get that urgent report to your boss, and make an emergency visit to the vet because your cat ate balloon string you eek out a tiny scream. It is a tiny scream because you don’t have the energy or the time for a full fledged wail. It is also at this time that someone, probably a good friend or family member will recognize your tiny scream as a cry for help. And you know what they will tell you? “You need some time to relax and do nothing."
“Oh ree-hee-hee-lee?” is my retort. Note the four syllables in the word, “really.” Anytime you wish to increase the dramatic effect of any word, add a few syllables. It always words for me. But I digress. Just call me a relaxation skeptic. I am one of those people who bristle when told that I just need to relax. And then I am offered helpful but useless suggestions.
Helpful friend: How about a vacation?
The relaxation skeptic: Okay you know my family. Imagine spending days with all of us in the small confined spaces of a car and then a hotel room. Would you be brave enough to do it? And then there is the preparation of packing for all these people, making sure everyone has clean underwear, electronic devices with the appropriate cords and batteries, car snacks, not to mention clever and creative travel activities so that someone is not yelling out, “Are we there yet?” every five minutes. Family vacation = Work. I usually need a vacation from my vacation when we get home.
Helpful friend: How about a nice bubble bath?
The relaxation skeptic: How about one? That would require some work to remove the rubber duckies, boats, plastic frogs, old magic markers (used to dye the water blue in one of my kid’s experiments) and other assorted bath toys. Too much work. Besides I get a rash from bubble bath and my skin prunes up. Next!
Helpful friend: What about those deep breathing techniques you always hear about?
The relaxation skeptic: You know every time I have tried doing those deep breathing exercises I feel like I am practicing to be one of those creepy prank callers who breathes into the phone and hangs up. Thinking about my breathing makes me feel nervous and self conscious as though I am such a dummy I need to be taught how to breathe. No thanks.
Helpful friend: There is always yoga.
The relaxation skeptic: Been there. Done that. It is called slow painful torture. I am always fortunate to stand next to the teacher’s pet who can contort effortlessly to become a dog, eagle, and mighty warrior as I maintain my “I don’t know what the hell I am doing so I will just stand and watch” pose.
At the end of the class there is usually this mandatory relaxation period where we listen to soothing music and lie on our yoga mats in a darkened room. It is just like nap time in kindergarten. Some people even bring blankets. I mean come on. If I want to nap I will do it at home and not on some gym floor with a bunch of strangers.
Despite the fact that the instructor tells us that no sleeping is allowed at this time, the sound of snores and grunts fill the air. As a delightful addition to the snoring, there are some who are so relaxed that they let one rip. What do relaxed people do? Obviously they either fall asleep or fart. And a lucky few do both at the same time. The yoga experience made me realize that relaxation should always be practiced within the privacy of one's own home.
Still the ever helpful friend: Why don’t you just do nothing? Just sit there and relax. Can you do that?
The relaxation skeptic: This brings us full circle back to my initial premise that it is impossible to just do nothing. Doing nothing makes me nervous as my mind fills up with things that I am not doing but should be doing when I am sitting there “doing” nothing thereby increasing my neurotic guilt. You get it don’t you?
Which brings me back to the title of this post: Relaxation for Real People.
How to Relax in Three Easy Steps:
1. Don’t tell anyone you plan to relax, and especially your family, because everyone knows that this is an invitation to bug you. Your family will tend to feel sorry for you thinking that you are bored and lonely and in need of something productive to do. My advice is to relax on the sly.
2. Create a “relaxation menu” of activities which honestly do relax you or at the very least distract you from ruminating and churning out anxious thoughts. They don’t have to be highfalutin relaxation techniques from some glossy magazine. Don’t be embarrassed if you feel a sense of ease and relaxation when watching reruns of The Golden Girls.
3. Tell your family you are going to sort the socks, clean the toilets, or look for possums in the crawl space…something they won’t want involved in. And this will be your ticket to choose something from your relaxation menu to do for a whole five minutes or more before they figure it out.
And there you have it, relaxation the quick and easy way for real people.
Obviously this article is tongue-in-cheek. One of the ways I personally de-stress is through humor. I did want to let you know that we have a wealth of articles about relaxation which you can use to achieve that rare sense of calm and peacefulness.
Here are just some of many informational posts we have on relaxation techniques. Surely you will find something which works well for you.