Are you guilty of always being busy?
It seems like relaxing is something everyone should be able to do, but those of us who are constantly stressed, are workaholics or have specific health issues don't appear to have an "off" switch. Learning to relax is beneficial for your health and wellbeing, so we need to learn to stop writing to-do lists and find ways for our minds and bodies to relax and unwind instead.
The last couple of months have given me lots of things to reflect upon, including what it means to be busy. Before lockdown, I was working with a diary full of clients, doing the usual household chores and had social events on my calendar to look forward to. But then things suddenly changed, and like a lot of people, I had a lot more time on my hands. I needed to find new routines and habits to support a healthy lifestyle in a different way.
And yet, I still felt a need to do something, anything, to keep me busy. I found cupboards to clean, business projects I had been putting off, courses I wanted to start, and recipes I wanted to try – the things that I don't usually get the time to do.
All this was a distraction from actually doing nothing at all. Here was the greatest gift of time, the freedom to sit and relax. However, the thought of doing nothing can be quite overwhelming to those of us who are just not used to the more relaxed pace of life.
But here's the thing I have been telling myself - we don't have to be busy all the time. In fact, being busy all of the time is not creating a healthy balanced lifestyle that supports our health and wellbeing, so do we need to take time out to relax?
Being busy is a state that we often proud of. We look on downtime as a shameful thing and feel guilty taking time for ourselves. But if we continue to feel guilty for doing nothing, sooner or later, we are going to feel frazzled, worn out and unhappy. We need to learn how to slow down a little and permit ourselves to rest. Shifting to a self-care mindset will help us to nourish our bodies and minds so we can get more out of life.
I know, as a woman, how much we struggle with the concept of rest compared to men. We have to juggle work with family, having different roles, and with the pressure of being trying to be superwoman, so we squeeze the most out of every hour of the day. The social expectations can make us take on too much, mistaking busyness for achievement. We become bad at saying 'No' to things that aren't creating joy in our lives.
The problem occurs when our need to be busy overtakes our need to look after ourselves – physically, mentally and emotionally. Busyness can easily be at the expense of our wellbeing. Luckily, no matter how busy you are, it's simple to learn how to create time for yourself and how to relax in a way that works for you. The key is to find a balance between the things we HAVE to do, with the things that NOURISH our souls, and provide us with a sense of fun and enjoyment.
Of course, when we think of self-care, it can mean different things to different people. It doesn't have to be about long baths or spa days, although those are great too. It can be as simple as sitting on the sofa in your PJ's watching your favourite Netflix series, baking up a storm in the kitchen, writing in your journal, or sketching in a notepad. The point is you are doing something to help you relax, something you enjoy – and not doing it because you have to.
The idea of doing something relaxing without any added pressures or hidden agendas can be incredibly satisfying. Relaxation is our bodies way of rejuvenating. Our bodies respond to this downtime by reducing our blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones back to normal levels.
Taking some time for relaxing allows us to take a step back and recharge our batteries. It gives us a space to reflect and evaluate our lives so we can ensure we are living in a way that provides us with meaning and aligns with our values and the things that matter deeply to us. Doing less creates more space to appreciate the little things in life, the little moments that spark our soul.
So, I hope as things slowly return to normal, you hold on to the thought of not rushing back to being super busy. Embrace your free time and let your mind and body run free. Stop feeling as though you need to be achieving something all of the time.
Indulge your creative side, and give yourself time to relax fully.
Cook nutritious, healthy meals for you and your family. Get creative with stories or poems, or get crafty with paints, planters or crochet. If you want to tap into your spiritual side, create visualisation boards, mantra cards or little messages of hope for loved ones.
And don't forget to rest. Set aside a few minutes each day to breath deeply, meditate, take a soak in the bath, book yourself in for a massage, or just relax in front of the TV.
Today’s To-Do list: Rest, Relax, Refresh.