You’ve probably heard that you have to relax more because 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 have you even started colouring precisely between the lines in that $29.95 mindfulness colouring book yet?), you’ll be trapped in a vortex of relentless stress for the rest of your life.
Oh, and FYI, you only have a miniature window of time to do all these things before life’s other pressures (work, bills, kids etc.) come crashing down.
So relax. Are you relaxing yet? Why aren’t you relaxing?
We can end up putting undue pressure on ourselves by feeling like we have to unwind. Here are a few tips on how to chill out about chilling out.
Loosen your demands
Technology has made it hard for us not to take our work home which can make relaxing stressful. With unread emails sitting at the back of our minds, we can never really switch off.
We’ve come to believe that we have be 100% effective 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re told that even our downtime is supposed to be efficient. But that’s just not how human beings were meant to live! If you find yourself becoming a perfectionist about things that are supposed to relax you, remind yourself that whatever you do is okay.
There’s nothing you “should” be doing – your time belongs to you, so however you spend it is perfect. And it’s useful to remember that you’re making an active choice to do practices like meditation because of the benefits – they’re not obligations.
Although technology can improve our wellbeing, it can also add to the problem. When apps track everything from the calories we eat to the minutes we sleep, it’s easy to feel like you’re being scrutinised every time you sit down on the couch.
And that’s before you’ve even got your email notifications.
Creating a firm boundary between work and relaxation is the simplest way to retrain your brain around this. It could be helpful to switch off your phone at certain times of the day.
When you’ve set aside time to chill out, remember why you’re doing it: because nothing is as important as 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 the Zen those Instagrammers radiate? Social media can set up impossible standards of apparent wellbeing that most of us will never achieve. But the real key to relaxing better is to let go of any judgments and demands that you have on yourself, and do it your way.
Find ways to relax that you enjoy, and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go according to plan.