RELAXING IS ALMOST A PRESSURE IN ITSELF. THE MORE SOMEONE TELLS YOU TO DO IT, THE MORE DIFFICULT IT BECOMES. BUT DO WE ACTUALLY WANT TO RELAX?
Yesterday, I had a day off work. On my own. Without the kids. Nine WHOLE hours. I simply cannot remember the last time that this happened.
As Sunday night approached, I started to feel the pressure. How would I spend my day? Relaxing i.e. lounging around, eating croissants, watching Everybody Loves Raymond and reading magazines? Going for a swim? Shopping? Or staying at home to do all the things I really need to do? Because I don’t get any other chance. Ugh. Too many choices.
In the end, I tried to do a bit of everything. I managed the croissant. I did some online shopping. I packed for holiday. It was not an unfulfilling day by any means but when 4.00 PM came all too soon and it was time to collect Godivy from nursery, I suddenly wished I’d relaxed a bit more. Sat around all day. Made the most of the silence.
Or did I?
And I realised that relaxing is almost a pressure in itself. The more someone tells you to do it, the more difficult it becomes. How many times has someone said to you, ‘You do too much, slow down a bit,’ or ‘Try to relax, you really deserve a break,’ leaving you thinking you simply must have one. Because a) you clearly look like you need one b) it’s there on a plate and c) what fool looks a gift horse in the mouth?
Well, Daddy Pig had said those very words to me that morning. But then again it’s scary how quickly that man can switch off and relax. The words, ‘Malaysian Grand Prix,’ are enough to send him into an instant trance.
But what if we don’t actually want to ‘relax’? In the traditional sense. Maybe we thrive on being busy. On achieving. On being needed. Because, if we really wanted to, we could abandon a lot of the things we perceive need doing, in favour of following that elusive quest for relaxation, couldn’t we? There is very little in our lives that can’t wait, if we’re honest.
OK, so we have to go to work, if we work (unless your boss is very understanding or frequently drunk and unlikely to notice your absence). If we have kids, we can hardly abandon them at the school gates (or can we? Has anyone tried this? What happens if you do?). But other things, like the washing, or making a home cooked meal, so that doesn’t get done. So what? Someone wears ‘recycled’ pants. And opens a tin of beans. We know that doesn’t mean the end of the world. As long as they’re not our pants, obviously.
So if we’re not prioritising relaxing over these things, there must be a reason why. Could we perhaps get some weird satisfaction out of doing them? Ha ha. Or are we realistic enough to know that whilst the definition of relaxing might conjure up images of sipping a cappuccino in a fluffy white dressing gown without a care in the world, the reality is more likely to be sipping an instant coffee in a slightly greying gown with a million thoughts all vying for your attention. ‘Go away, I’m trying to relax!’ you say as, hey presto, more thoughts appear.
Maybe we’ve used all our relaxing up in our 20s when we were permanently hungover. Put it this way, there’s a reason E4 is targeted to under 25s. We’re not supposed to be watching it anymore.
One things for sure, we’re wired a bit differently now. And that’s ok. Because I say ‘relaxing’ is whatever we want it to be. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be by ourselves. Doing whatever we’re doing.
Because relaxing should come naturally, not become another pressure to add to the list.
Otherwise, it kind of defeats the object.
What’s your idea of relaxation? Do you find it easy or completely unachieveable? Maybe you think it’s a mis-sold offering? I’d love to hear your comments.
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Picture courtesy of www.teecraze.com