I’ve come to realise recently that I am not very good at the art of relaxing. Yes, I can sit and watch TV in the evening (and that is often all I’m good for after a busy day at work) but that is about as far as it goes. I am not very good at sitting down at the weekend and just reading a book or watching a film or even just doing nothing!
There seems to be always something I feel I should be doing. Be that helping children with their homework, sorting washing out, tackling the mountain of clean clothes waiting to be put away, catching up with work, tidying the house, walking the dogs, brainstorming my latest great business idea or doing an online course to support said latest idea.
Recently though, when I was moaning to my husband that he seems perfectly capable of sitting there playing his game on his phone for what seems like hours on end, he asked why I couldn’t I simply do the same? So I reeled out all the things that needed doing and that if I didn’t do them then they wouldn’t get done. But he didn’t agree this was the case. He also pointed out that I was also on my phone more than I thought – checking out Facebook and all the other rubbish I waste my time on on auto-pilot.
Fast forward to the following weekend and I decided to have a day of “doing nothing”. I had a very long lie-in, sat and read my book (a trashy fiction novel rather than any form of self-help or business book!), drank tea and ate biscuits until my friend came round. We then went out to dinner and had a lovely evening. And it was a great day. Particularly given that my lack of productively seemed to spark my husband’s so the washing got done as did the hoovering and various other things around the house.
The problem though was that I felt guilty. Less so about the washing and the housework but more so about the work I should have been catching up on, the school project I could have got the children started on and my failed progress at anything resembling a good business idea.
It didn’t feel like a totally wasted day though. Reading a book seemed much more productive than messing about on my phone or watching rubbish TV. Perhaps because I was consciously choosing to take some downtime, I acknowledged to myself that that was what it was.
And once I looked past the guilt, I did feel better for having had some downtime and it did help reduce my stress-levels – I guess you could say I felt more relaxed!
So although the art of relaxing doesn’t seem to come naturally to me, it is one I am trying to learn – after all practice makes perfect! And I have been practising – I’ve taken some time out here and there to do a jigsaw puzzle (it was a really difficult one I got for Christmas so ended up being quite a lot of time!) and I’ve sat down on a Sunday afternoon to read my book. No the washing didn’t always get done and the hoover didn’t see the light of day. But it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things if that slips another day.
And so I’ve decided that the key to success is to consciously schedule in some downtime and to focus on the benefits relaxing brings and less on the things that don’t get done. To cut down on the time I spend wasting on my phone and turn that into a more productive or even a more relaxing time. And to find the right balance for me – I’ll never be someone who can do nothing all the time but I do need to dedicate some of my time to that. Because, in the end, I think it will make my whole life more productive and less stressful – something that can only be good for our family, even if we may end up tumble drying the school uniform Monday morning!