Even Busy People Can Relax
I have compassion for busy people, so when I hear them say things like:
“I’m too busy to relax.”
“I’m afraid if I let go of my stress, I won’t get anything done.”
I want to help. When you are in stressed-out busy mode, it’s hard to see the point of relaxing. Maybe you think it’s better to just push through your days, using every moment you have to check off your to-do list. I’ve found in both my personal life and my relaxation coaching work with people that this approach is unsustainable, and eventually, the body will shut down. There are studies galore that tell us that taking regular relaxation breaks will help you actually get more done and feel a whole lot better doing it. One of my favorite relaxation quotes applies here:
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."
— Sydney J. Harris
Embracing relaxation can help you maintain your well-being when you are feeling stressed and busy. Consider these ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life:
Making Room for Relaxation
Although you might feel like you don’t have time to relax, relaxation doesn’t have to take up much of your time. The next time you feel stressed, try this experiment: step away for a few minutes to give yourself a chance to recharge. Whether you use a breathing technique, some gentle stretching, a few affirmations, or just closing your eyes for a couple of minutes, I think you will be pleasantly surprised how much better you feel. Taking time away from the hurry-scurry can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer. Then you can return to your tasks until it’s time for your next relaxation break (and this experiment will convince you to take that next break).
The very idea of relaxation is often misunderstood. Some people view relaxation as the enemy of productivity, though the opposite is true. Learning how to relax is key to sustaining a meaningful, productive, enjoyable life. Understanding how relaxation, which is an important part of self-care, can help every aspect of your life is vital to changing how you perceive it. Start by seeing relaxation as just another of your daily habits. You have daily routines such as washing your face, taking vitamins and making a to-do list, so I recommend adding relaxation techniques. Shifting your view of relaxation from a once-a-month luxury event (or for some people, once-a-year) to just another part of your healthy, daily routine will help you make it a priority. (I imagine your doctor, family, and friends are all nodding their heads in agreement with me, by the way. They care about your well-being.)
Our lives are bombarded and interrupted by texts, phone calls, social media, and emails—most of them unnecessary—keeping us overstimulated and unable to relax. There might be times when you need to take them as they come, but at some point, it’s important to put a limit on them. For example, I had a client who had alerts for every email, text, social media interaction and call that came in, and this was exhausting and anxiety-provoking for her. She experimented with turning off all alerts and having 2-3 set times per day to check her devices. After her experiment, she decided she was not ready to completely give up alerts, but she only kept them on during a key time during her work day and then shut them off for the rest of the day. This helped her feel more balanced and able to “switch off” when she had some downtime.
Establishing an unwinding ritual at the end of the working day trains your mind and body to relax so you can switch gears at home. During the last half an hour, only begin jobs that are easy to complete, make a to-do list for the next day and clear your desk. With time, your mind and body will anticipate winding down so you can enjoy time with friends and family as well as peaceful solitude. Learning to switch off and unwind can also help later when it’s time for sleep.
Finding Your Group
Being around people who incorporate relaxation into their busy lives is a great way to reinforce the idea that taking time for relaxation is worth your time. You can find relaxation groups in your community and/or workplace, or you can gather a group of friends with the goal of helping each other learn ways to relax. Some groups have a person guiding them through relaxation techniques, or they simply play a guided relaxation recording and learn that way. Committing to a weekly meeting will help you develop a community of individuals who inspire you to continue on a path to a more relaxing, manageable life. Some may be navigating the same pathway you are, and others may have some helpful advice on how to overcome your stress management challenges.
If you have any questions about relaxation training, stress management or life coaching, feel free to contact me through my website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here as a resource for you.
May we all find a time for relaxation.