Recently I realized that I’ve been confusing relaxing with distracting myself. My mind can often speed along a million thoughts per minute – I’ll be thinking about an essay I need to finish writing, an idea for a new project, the housework I need to finish, the paper I need to buy for my printer, and oh dear I’ve gotten carried away again. My thoughts can feel like a surging river rushing through my mind. It’s no wonder that when I’m watching an episode of “The Great British Bake Off,” thinking about cakes rather than chores, that I think I’m relaxing. The problem is, I’m not. I might not be conscious of the constant current of thoughts going through my mind but that doesn’t mean they’re gone. The same goes for listening to a podcast and even reading a book because I’m not actively relaxing, I’m actively distracting myself.
That realized, I then faced another dilemma, if that isn’t relaxing, then what is? How does one relax? Am I even capable of relaxing? Trying to figure out how to relax can be decidedly un-relaxing and frustrating. Shouldn’t relaxing just be easy? It sounds like it should be. We often tell people to ‘just relax’ – as though there’s a magic button conveniently built on to each of us. Well if that is the case, I’ve had a button malfunction. Relaxing, it turns out requires some effort.
On my journey to find relaxation I’ve discovered that it actually requires a lot of one on one time with yourself and nothing else. That can be anxiety provoking as it is. I cannot pretend either that I’ve reached the end of this expedition. What I have found is that meditation, is key. You don’t have to sit in a cross legged position and chant ohm – we can find ways to meditate and be mindful in everyday activities. I’ve been trying to work these meditative moments into my routine. It can be hard work but it’s so important to give one’s brain a break.
Conquering Life helped me to understand that in life we are always ‘works in progress’ – there’s always more to learn about ourselves. It’s a positive understanding because we’re always in a position to improve and grow. Circumstances can change and with it our way of interacting with ourselves and the world. That means that sometimes we need to pause and re calibrate. This isn’t to say that snuggling onto the sofa with a cuppa and watching an episode of your favourite programme isn’t important too, but I’ve come to learn relaxing is an active activity. One that requires focus and dedication – taking space and quiet, even if just for five minutes. It’s something that I’m learning to work on and one that I would encourage everyone to work on too.
Relaxing is about breathing and tuning into your body, letting the thoughts drive by rather than through your mind. This month I’m Conquering Life by learning to relax, I invite you to join me in that pursuit.
Join us, and begin to conquer your life, here.
Watch people who decided to, here.