A few years back I was working with my health coach Paige and was pretty deep in the self-development churn.
My husband was heading away on a business trip to sunnier climes so I joined him and mostly had the days to myself while he was at the office.
Paige emailed me between sessions to see how I was doing.
I had grand plans to relax on this holiday and my first day was blissful - a long walk, spa, a cold beer with lunch on the beach, reading all afternoon, but by the second day I was struggling … I told her I’d already powered through the goals we’d set at my last session and was itching for more to do.
She then asked me a question that has really stuck with me since - “Do you plan to spend a significant amount of your life resting?”
Um, yes, was my response.
Yet here I was on day two of my holiday sitting with uncomfortable feelings like boredom, guilt and restlessness.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, here’s how to combat your phobia of relaxing:
Schedule relaxation time
A good type A personality trick right?
I found, for example, when I had ‘nothing’ to do on a weekend day, I felt quite guilty for lounging around. I think this was because none of it was very intentional and I hadn’t actually committed to my plan to do nothing - it was just happening by default.
So now, if I want to make plans, I do - brunch, walks with friends, shopping, all still fall into relaxation for me. Or, if I have a few errands and chores to do, I schedule them for the morning, then schedule in an afternoon of reading my book, watching Netflix or scrolling social media with no issues.
It feels better for me to relax after having been productive, or to relax with other people rather than alone.
Sit with the uncomfortable feelings
As I mentioned, I do struggle with the feeling of boredom or, more specifically, not being sure what I feel like doing.
We run around so much in our lives - working hard, running to appointments, keeping our houses in order - and when we do feel any boredom a device is there to distract us immediately.
Sitting with hard feelings is something Brooke Castillo taught me and it’s really about realising there’s nothing to fear in any emotion.
Boredom to me might feel a bit icky and might make me a bit restless but I can handle that.
Given everything else I have going on, the feeling of boredom is a good thing to come up for me once in a while and after I’ve accepted that I can move on to the things I think I never have time for.
We’re not living life on a points system
I absolutely love this concept (thanks Amy Young).
I’ve talked about it here on the blog before, but if we’re lucky enough, we’re always going to have a to do list, a bucket list and a bunch of cupboards that never stay cleaner longer than a week.
So when I have nothing to do, I can easily create something to do - but who is watching and who is going to pat me on the back for ticking these things off?
Life is much more interesting when lived with pleasure and enjoyment and compassion for ourselves, not when we’re churning through a to do list or adding to that list for the very sake of it.
I do plan to spend much of my life relaxing, and I’m ok with that. How about you?