Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.
This is a companion post to my recent post “Waging War on My Stress.” While that post focused on my realization of how stressed out I am almost all the time (apparently my body thinks I’m always in a survival crisis), this post is to focus on the flip side: I am seriously pursuing a more relaxed life.
I’m aware of the irony in that statement (along with the irony [which was intentional, by the way] of “waging war on my stress,” as Emilie pointed out in a comment on that post): pursuing is the opposite of relaxing. But this is a paradox I’m working with right now…
Part of me wishes I had more time and energy with which to pursue relaxation; I would go whole-hog and learn yoga, meditation, and other such things, and I’d research and try other alternative and lifestyle ways of reducing my generalized anxiety levels.
But the rest of me thanks my circumstances for holding me back. I naturally tend to throw too much enthusiasm and effort at things and then burn out, but my physical weakness has taught (and continues to teach) me through “tough love” that I’ve got to just sit back and let things be. In contrast to standard goal-keeping advice (“break it down,” “set deadlines,” “get practical/realistic,” etc.), I often find these days that the best way to pursue a change in my life is to simply be aware of that desire—and then to let life gradually show me ways to meet it.
So that’s what I’m doing with relaxation. I know that I want to cultivate a relaxed mind and life, and I know that throwing myself into learning yoga or meditation is not the way to begin (though I still hope that maybe future time and energy will allow me to explore those kinds of things). For now, I’m pursuing a relaxed life by just staying aware of my goal, and that helps my mind stay open to ways of making my goal a reality. The ways do come, in the form of little ideas for in-the-moment things I can do or changes I can make to be more relaxed, such as:
* Remind myself that the world won’t end if I don’t get ____ done today
* Get up, get away from screens, walk around, and breathe (ideally, go outside)
* At work, think of something positive to look forward to, such as reading a novel I’m into later that evening; also, remind myself of truths/mantras that comfort me
* At home, do something fun and/or relaxing, such as:
– Play the piano or the guitar
– Take a candlelit bath
– Brush Marvin, my cat who sheds the most (it relaxes us both!)
And the list goes on. (I actually do have a written list of fun and relaxing things I can do at home. I consult it often!) I’m hoping the little things like this, combined with awareness of my goal (and also cutting out caffeine and exercising more, which are both helping a lot), will keep adding up to a lasting change in my life.