You’ve probably heard that you have to relax more and that your health depends on it. Unless you meditate, do yoga, read self-improvement books, take the right supplements, journal every day, spend plenty of time doing nothing and colour precisely between the lines in that $29.95 mindfulness colouring book you haven’t even started yet, you’ll be trapped in a vortex of relentless stress for the rest of your life.
Oh, and by the way, you only have a tiny of window time to do all this before all of life’s other pressures (work, bills, kids etc.) come crashing down.
So relax. Are you relaxing yet? Why aren’t you relaxing?
Feeling like we have to unwind can put undue pressure on ourselves to do it. Here are a few tips on how to chill out about chilling out.
Loosen your demands
One reason relaxing can be stressful in 21st century culture is that technology has made it hard to not take our work home with us. With unread emails always blinking at the back of our minds, we can never really switch off. A weird side effect of this is that we start to think about leisure through the framework of work.
We’ve come to believe that we have be 100% effective 24 hours a day. Even our downtime is supposed to be efficient. But that’s just not how human beings live! If you catch yourself being a perfectionist about things that are supposed to relax you, gently remind yourself that whatever you do is okay.
There’s nothing you “should” be doing – it’s your time, so however you spend it is perfect. And while practices like meditation do take discipline, it’s useful to remember that you’re making an active choice to do them because of the benefits – they’re not obligations.
Although technology can improve our wellbeing when we use it properly, it can also add to the problem. When apps track everything from the calories we eat to the breaths we take, it’s easy to feel like you’re having KPIs monitored every time you sit down on the couch.
And that’s before you’ve even got your email notifications.
The simplest solution to all this is to retrain your brain by creating a firm boundary between work and relaxation. It could be helpful to switch off your phone.
When you’ve set aside time to chill out, remember that you’re doing it because nothing is more important than your mental and physical health. Steer clear of that inbox: Norbert from Sales can wait until you’re in the office.
Go easy on yourself
Not feeling as Zen as those radiant Instagrammers look? Social media can set up impossible standards of apparent wellbeing that most of us can never hope to achieve. But the real key to relaxing better is to do it your way, and let go of any judgments or demands you have on yourself.
Find ways to relax that you enjoy, and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go according to plan