So, if I told you that you needed to take some time to relax, you’d probably just look at me with a sarcastic smirk on your face and say something like, “Sure, I’ll get right on that. I don’t have anything else to do right at the moment.” (And you might even bob your head from side to side while you told me! 😉
Or you might actually seriously ask me, “So, honestly, when exactly am I supposed to take the time to relax? Really, I have no time.”
The best answer, of course, is “right now”. Or in an hour or during your afternoon break. I’d tell you to choose a time—the sooner the better—and put it on your schedule…. in ink.
Yup, I’d tell you to make relaxation a serious priority. I’d tell you to schedule it just like you would an appointment with your boss or a new prospect or your trainer. It’s that important—as in “game changer” important.
Not too long ago, I posted a blog about making your dreams come true. I gave you the “Live Your Dream” five-step recipe. The first step is relaxation.
So let’s talk about what I mean by relaxation. And let’s start with what I don’t mean by that…
Relaxing—actual, honest, fulfilling relaxation—doesn’t mean a bottle (or 2 or 3) of wine, a Netflix binge, shopping, a pile of Doritos or any other substance. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. You need nothing.
Relaxation lives inside of you.
All you have to do to step towards it is to let your mind disconnect from its busyness. I know, easier said than done.
But you can start with two minutes. Just two minutes of breathing, looking at the clouds roll by, sitting under a tree or even just savoring a cup of coffee instead of gulping it down as you rush out the door.
Since Kindergarten (or maybe even before for some of us), we’ve been trained to look outside ourselves for approval and validation. You needed to get good grades. You were told to practice, practice, practice to be the best at sports or music. You were compared to others—your fellow students, your siblings, your friends and, now through social media, to people from all over the world.
In fact you and I got so used to looking outside ourselves to get our needs met, that most of us aren’t even conscious we’re doing it anymore.
So many of my clients come to me knowing they’re missing something in their lives. They’re searching for who they are, what they really want and what their ultimate purpose is on this planet.
They’ve soaked up gobs of that brain numbing clutter that tells them that they need to be busy all the time. Sound familiar? Those well-worn messages of productivity, accomplishment, and approval have taken their toll. They’re absolute joy killers; vitality smooshers. So they come to me and I happily help them remember how to relax.
If you think this hasn’t happened to you, let me ask you a question. Imagine it’s the end of a long day. You walk in the door, drop your keys, kick off your shoes and dump your briefcase/purse/backpack. You automatically reach for the remote or the bottle or the credit card bill. You gather with your partner or roommate or children or maybe you call your best friend. My question is this: when you’re asked about your day, what do you say?
Most of us answer with a laundry list of all the things we’ve accomplished that day. We “unwind” by verbally reminding ourselves of the stress we lived through, the exhausting traffic we negotiated, and the tiredness we feel to our bones.
What if, instead of reliving the drudgeries of your day, you focused on being in the moment. What if, for a couple of magical moments, you just… well, stopped.
At its core, being completely in the moment IS relaxation.
Why is this so important? There are dozens of reasons but I want to mention just a couple today.
- First, as you go through your day, your mind is sort of like a camera lens and it picks up dust and grime along the way. It gets pretty dirty and it doesn’t take long before things aren’t so clear anymore. In fact, what you see in front of you may look downright blurry. And the truth of the matter is the dirtier your lens gets, the crappier your life starts to feel. The more reactive you become. The more you look outside yourself for everything you want which leaves you off center, off kilter, out of balance, and unhappy. But if you take a little time to clean your lens (aka relax), that lens clears up again.Your brain works the same way. There’s so much research that proves that our storage capacity, our ability to make decisions and our “willpower” declines as the day wears on. Our brains aren’t as fresh at bedtime as they are when we wake up. In order to stay focused—whether you’re working or playing—you need breaks. Relaxation is actually a basic need.
- The second reason I encourage relaxation is because so many of us aren’t having too much fun anymore. Almost every day I read a post on Facebook or Instagram where someone’s longing for the days when we used to play until the street lights came on; or when “being social” meant actually spending face-to-face time with someone. But there’s no reason to miss those days. We can still live them! In fact we’re starving for them. As adults, we need to hike more, throw a baseball, hang upside down in trees, roll on the ground with our dogs, fly down hills, do summersaults, play hide and seek. We need to do these things with the abandon and freedom we used to feel as children. And we can’t do that unless we remember how to let go and relax again; how to be in and appreciate the moment.
Freedom and abandon are portals to your ultimate relaxation and yup, you guessed it, your happiness.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to spend some time talking about each of the elements of the “Live Your Dream” recipe. We’ll talk about getting centered, meditation, and how to play with your dreams so that they actually come back into view and feel possible again. We’re going to generate some excitement about the life some part of you dreams of living. If you don’t know what those things are or why they’re important, stick around.
I’m also going to give you simple, practical steps to practice each week. If you’ll follow through with them, you’ll be on your way from kind of sort of dreaming your dreams to actually making them a reality.
So, this week’s assignment is easy. All you have to do is make a 2 minute appointment on your calendar for relaxation. For two minutes, breath deep, enjoy your place, and maybe laugh or smile a little bit. Just be in appreciation for the moment (or two). For extra credit, do this three times over the next week.
Once you’ve got it on your calendar, leave me a comment and let me know you’re in! Maybe we’ll call it the 2 minute club. 🙂