Stop Feeling Guilty for Relaxing

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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?

July Recap and August Intentions

I’m curious - do you guys set monthly goals or intentions? How do you track your bigger goals for the year?

I’d love to hear so let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

I do have bigger goals that I work on through the year, but love to have these little check ins each month to keep me focused.

July Recap

Take a break from winter

There’s no measuring the value of 30 degree weather in the middle of winter for me.

Hawaii was just what I needed - a perfect balance of hiking, snorkeling and waterfalls, alongside pool / beach days and plenty of naps and reading (see more below!).

Depending on where and what time of year speaks most to you, I highly recommend booking a holiday in advance, and don’t forget to enjoy the lead up - after all, they say the anticipation of your trip is pretty much as good as the break itself ... amazing right?

Focus on tech free time

I definitely feel like a success with this intention (at last!). I seriously reduced my technology time while I was away - only really checking social media in the morning and maybe once at night.

And the result? I managed to read six books within the first week. What?!

Even with a fairly busy schedule of sightseeing and meals out, during moments on the beach, while I was having my morning coffee, before bed, I kept picking up my book instead of my phone.

Averaging around 4-5 hours of reading a day meant I powered through my hard copy books and Kindle picks and it made me really think - what else would I have done with those hours? Probably scrolled through Instagram and refreshed my email ... scary right?

Instead I managed a good mix of self-development and fiction titles, switching off from the incessant feeds on my phone. And my top reads? Hot Milk and Loving What Is. Enjoy!

August Intentions

Stay healthy at work

After a couple of weeks off work, it was easy to fall back into the inbox/chat trap and look out at the dreary winter weather and stay inside all day long.

I want to stay healthy through August so am going to look into apps (or set my own reminders if that is overkill!) that remind me of a few things - to drink more water, to get up from my desk and to stay focused on work and not get distracted by overwhelm.

Do you guys have any app recommendations?

Complete an early spring clean

With plans to buy some new furniture and rearrange a few bits, I’m starting to cringe a little when I see piles of stuff with no home or overstuffed cupboards around my house.

I’m not sure I can face a full day declutter so might break this up into manageable tasks over a few weekends so I’m not spending my whole weekend sorting through stuff.

But like I spoke about in last week’s post, I’ll be doing this from a strong mindset - plugging in a great podcast or some music, grabbing a nice drink and getting comfy while I go through everything.

What are your plans for August? Are you feeling the need to get more intentional at work or at home? Set up a complimentary consult with me and we can chat through the next steps.

 

May Recap and June Intentions

Ah, perspective. I went back and re-read a few of my recaps and intention setting posts and had to scoff at myself for this one. Cold and short days in February? I don’t think so Georgie.

Here we are in winter in Australia - chilly mornings, followed by crisp sunny days (on my ideal days anyway, rain and cloud otherwise). I’ve moved out of holiday mode and am back into the swing of everyday life. Here’s a look back at May and a view as to what’s up next for me.

Morning yoga views in Thailand

Morning yoga views in Thailand

May Recap

I didn’t set any specific intentions here on the blog for May but considering the first week of the month was spent in Krabi, Thailand, I kicked it off nicely.

It was a great chance to unwind and relax, but it also made me realise I really missed our home in Melbourne and of course, Pickles, cat extraordinaire.

It’s a good feeling to come back home and see everything with fresh, appreciative eyes.

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Upon returning to Melbourne, I’ve spent some amazing time with close friends.

My friendship group is all busy with our own careers, relationships and families, but when we come together for quality time, nothing really beats it.

I 100% remember why we’ve been friends so long, why we still push to stay in touch and how important friends are to lean on.

June Intentions

Keep the juggle calm

I am juggling quite a few things at the moment - work, study, social occasions, regular life admin. But post-holiday, I’ve found myself doing it in a calmer way than usual.

I’m not cramming my days full of appointments and I’m also not rushing from one task to the next - instead I’m trying to be present and give full attention to what I’m doing, whether it be laundry or coffee with a friend.

I’m hoping to keep this slower pace through June.

Do a financial review

After a few big purchases and a great holiday (worth every $), I’m ready to settle back into a more measured budget and get the savings up again. In particular I’m focusing on getting the rush from the ‘new purchase’ (aka online shopping) in other ways, namely free ways.

I will also keep in mind the future goal of savings and how good that will feel long term compared to the short term happiness of a new winter coat or a new mascara.

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What are your plans for June? Any intentions you’re planning on working on?

 

Three Life Lessons Learnt in Vietnam

Hi readers, I’m back! My husband and I just spent two weeks in Vietnam and a week in Thailand and it was an amazing trip.

Three weeks felt like aggggggggeeees and we saw and did so much. It was super warm (35 degrees Celsius plus) which was amazing, but I’m actually kind of happy to come back to cooler weather.

I highly recommend travelling to both places, but I thought today I’d reflect on the three major themes I took from my experiences in Vietnam.

Keep it slow and fresh in the kitchen

Vietnamese food is incredible - at almost every meal my husband or I would say to each other ‘I know I said this last time, but this food is just so … fresh …’ and we’d laugh.

We visited bustling food markets in Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi and whipped up some dishes at a cooking class on the river in Hoi An.

The experiences really inspired me to slow down and take the time to make fresh, healthy, delicious food.

Often when I’m racing home after work, it’s a case of ‘what can I cook the fastest, with the least amount of steps?’ and although there are times when that is called for, it’s not that difficult to shred up mountains of fresh green herbs, slice your meat carefully for optimal cooking and stir fry delicious noodle dishes while meditating over the steam.

Relax and take risks in life

As some of you may know, Australia is often referred to as a ‘nanny state’.

Australia has a LOT of rules and laws and the complaint is that we are way too over-regulated compared to the rest of the world. Think - you have to wear a helmet on a bicycle, you really can’t smoke anywhere anymore and the restrictions go on and on.

As I grew up in Australia I’ve obviously grown accustomed to the safety and comfort of where I live, but I do love going to other countries and observing the differences.

Well the cities of Vietnam are perfect for that - in particular, gawking at the traffic.

Leaving the airport at Saigon, we were caught in a semi-traffic jam.

I peered out the taxi window at motorbikes weaving in and out of the lanes (often with up to a family of 4 on the motorbike), cars and buses beeping their horns (always as a warning that they’re there, not in an aggressive manner) and random people strolling into the middle of it all as they try and cross the road. It is truly an incredible sight.

Although I’m aware Vietnam’s road toll is much higher than Australia’s - I love that the chaotic traffic situation just works.

People live with more risk and get on with walking, driving and living without fear.

Be grateful for what you have

Vietnam is not a rich country and is still officially a communist nation. Although the food, the people and the places are amazing, I was reminded how lucky I am to come from a safe, spacious, wealthy country.

In Vietnam there is more poverty, no free healthcare for citizens and a very low pension for retirees so most are looked after by family into old age.

On the positive side of that, you see many older people floating through tai chi routines or using the free exercise equipment in the park on a plight to remain healthy for as long as possible.

Vietnamese-owned companies require employees to work six days a week and wages are often not high enough to afford a visa and trip to a country like Australia. I am extremely lucky.

I’d love to hear about your travels. What’s the number on lesson you’ve learnt in another country?

February Recap and March Intentions

I usually try and keep a positive attitude here on the blog, but I am in complete denial that summer is ending here in Australia.

We had a rubbish week of weather in mid-February and I can feel the days getting shorter already.

What are your best tips for accepting the change of seasons? Halp!

Ok, back to normal programming now. How did I do with my February intentions?

Focus on home decor

Although the Pinterest boards continue to grow, I haven’t purchased much in the last month.

After closer consideration, I think I need to replace big ticket items, rather than continue buying trinkets and feature items.

And that takes some $$ saving...stay tuned.

Plan trip away

We were trying to tie a work trip into our jaunt to America and Mexico, and unfortunately our plans were foiled last month.

The good news is we’re still going on a holiday - but now to Vietnam and Thailand.

Let me know any tips on these countries in the comments below and, in the meantime, I’ll keep following Alaina Kaczmarski, co-founder of The Everygirl, on Instagram as she’s in Vietnam right now. 

Rehab

So I was gearing up to tell you guys how regular I’ve been with my rehab and the benefits I’ve been noticing.

But of course I’ve now woken up with a super sore lower back today and I feel like I’m back at square one a little.

Time to book a visit to the osteo to get sorted again.

March intentions

Enjoy the weather

Rather than moaning about the end of summer, I’m going to kick the gratitude up a notch.

My plan is to enjoy walks on the river, wine in outdoor beer gardens and dinners on our terrace while it’s still light in the evenings.

In the meantime, I’ll try to stay positive and keep saving articles about jazz like this. Apparently I’m going to be smarter in winter!  

Less personal development

So I had a few other ideas for March intentions, but felt a little tired and overwhelmed when I thought about them.

So rather than working on myself in another way, I’m going to try and do the opposite and embrace less personal development.

Yup, as I mentioned here,  constantly striving for self-improvement and absorbing the associated media can be exhausting. I’m taking a break.

What are your plans for March?

 

January Recap and February Intentions

How has the first month of 2016 been for you dear readers?

Mine has been pretty great - with no specific intentions and a fairly free schedule, I’ve been able to enjoy the warm weather, take my time with thinking about 2016 and I’ve also been practicing a fair amount of gratitude (more below).

So here’s what’s changed at Where the Light Plays this month:

Journaling

I’m pretty sure I was 16 the last time I kept a journal. And it was mostly to document my crushes…

I’ve mentioned them a few times but I’ve become even more obsessed with Alex and Mimi Ikonn lately. On the surface they lead a pretty glamorous life but their backgrounds, outlooks and goals are very sincere.

I’ve been wanting to pick up The Five Minute Journal for a while but the overseas shipping is pretty exorbitant. Apparently this will change soon so I think I’ll still purchase my own copy when the time is right.

The great thing is the authors, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, actually give the planner away for free on their website. So I mocked up my own journal to start trying out this habit in January.

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And? I truly love it. It puts me in a great frame of mind when I think about what I’m grateful for each morning and makes me more conscious about what I want from that day.

I can check in on the journal after work to make sure I’m on track with what I wanted, then I practise gratitude before bed. I totally recommend trying this (even without buying the journal).

Productivity Planner

The obsession with Alex and UJ continues… again, for free.

As you probably know, I’m always up for trying new strategies to be productive and manage my time at work. I’ve been using the Productivity Planner worksheets to plan my week on a Monday morning, listing out my most important tasks. I then complete a review of the week on Friday afternoon to see how I’ve tracked with the goals and what I’ve learned and want to take forward into the next week.

A few weeks in and I’m finding this a very useful tool with a particular benefit being you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot by the end of the week.

Kittens!

Newsflash - I’m not the hugest risk taker in the world.

Luckily my husband has more of a taste for getting us out of our comfort zone, so persuaded me to agree to looking after two kittens for a week while his coworker was away on a business trip in January. I was pretty concerned about our current cat being put out and the general disruption to our house.

In the end it was such a rewarding thing to do - to know they didn’t have to go to a cattery, to get to hang out with two beautifully natured kittens and to help our cat socialise with other cats.

The lesson? The best fruit is out on the furthest branch, so take a risk!

February Intentions

And as for February?

Focus on home decor

We moved into our house almost two years ago now and I’ve been wanting to update some furniture, buy some rugs and do the final declutter ever since. February is my month to get this done!

I’m depending on Gray Malin and Danielle Moss for online inspiration. Check out my Pinterest boards here and here.

Plan a holiday

I’m very excited that we have an overseas trip planned this year. Almost 4 weeks in the States and Mexico is on the cards and I can’t wait! Time to trawl accommodation sites and plan sightseeing and (mainly) eating and drinking in each city.

If you have any Austin or Mexico City recommendations in particular, please let me know below!

Do my rehab

I spoke about this in an earlier post, but I have a niggling, continuing hip problem that gives me pretty bad lower back pain from time to time. I have a series of rehab exercises I need to do a few times a week but I always find an excuse not to do them.

The benefits definitely outweigh the time it takes me to do the exercises so I’m committing to three times a week through February.

What are your February intentions? Let me know below or over on Facebook

 

October Recap and November Intentions

We are almost through October so it’s time to review my intentions for the last month.

Cut off technology at 10pm (and read hard copy books)

I am getting better with this intention. I’ve been reading this great book, which is basically short interviews with interesting Londoners. It does entice me to read every night but I still find myself often taking ‘one last look’ at social media. Disconnecting from technology is a work in progress for all of us I think.

Enjoy the daylight

Unfortunately I injured myself earlier in the month, so I haven’t been able to do much exercise, including going to the gym. However, walking has been doable so I’ve been walking along the river most nights after work before we sit down to dinner.

With the clocks moving forward in Australia, it’s been beautifully light and warm, so I have definitely felt an increased appreciation for the daylight. And with less wine than I intended to enjoy last month, which is probably a good thing!

Revel in upcoming events

An expressive birthday moment with friends...

An expressive birthday moment with friends...

Over my birthday weekend I made sure to sit back and enjoy special moments with friends and family and not let them pass by too quickly.

Unfortunately the music festival I was going to was cancelled but I still have plenty of upcoming fun activities to practice this technique on.

November Intentions

Schedule quarterly shopping days

Uh, how fun does this sound? This year I’ve been planning my budget a little better and putting some extra money away for clothes and beauty.

It’s starting to build up and I figure rather than making spontaneous online shopping hauls (hello Asos), I should make a day of it and go into stores, try on and buy great products and finish with a meal or drink with a girlfriend. Who’s with me?

Eat more frogs at work

I ebb and flow with this concept, but back when I wrote this post, it was working really well for me. It’s a very busy season at work so, rather than fall behind, I’m going to try and get my ‘ugliest’ task out of the way first thing.

Whether that be a phone call I’m dreading, a report I’ve been putting off, or plugging my headphones in and getting my inbox back under control, it will put me in good stead for the rest of the work day.

Plan for the holidays

Yes, it’s nearly that time again! Between work and social events, I usually do a frantic online shop (are we seeing a pattern here?) in early-mid December.

This year I’d like to think ahead, work on some great, thoughtful gifts and also get a food and drink list started to make this season extra special.

What are you planning to get done in November? Let me know in the comments below.

How To Get That Holiday Feeling In Everyday Life

As I mentioned here, I took a week off work last week and headed to warmer climes. Around the same time last year, I did a post on how I was trying to capture that holiday feeling in everyday life.

One of the days last week I was by myself. I wanted to capture here how I spent the day and remind myself to do it again.

It was one of those rare days where you fall into bed at night with opposing feelings of exhaustion and rejuvenation.

You can all hold me accountable to this, but I want some of my weekend days to follow the below formula. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves and do the activities that actually expand, rather than deplete, our energy.

Wake up on your own time

Enough said about this one really. There’s something rare and special about waking up sans alarm and reading in bed, or just lying there staring at the ceiling.

When life offers this option up (and I know it can be rare!), take it and luxuriate in it.

Move your body

I’m still not a regular morning exerciser but can really see the benefit of getting it done early in the day.

You’re less likely to put it off, you feel a sense of accomplishment and it often helps to wake us up and propel us on with the rest of our day.

As holidays can be indulgent, it felt great to do weights at the hotel gym during the morning. I almost jumped on the treadmill too, then realised I was planning on walking around the city most of the day, so canned that idea in favour of the outside world!

Include some culture

My theory is if you’re missing that travelling feeling, head to a gallery or museum. I get a distinct feeling over me when I walk around a venue like this, that I could be anywhere in the world.

I did spend a year living overseas and frequented galleries and museums in a lot of cities, but I’m pretty sure it’s a universal feeling for many people.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane was airy, quiet and gave me that worldly feeling all over again.

Enjoy a slow meal

Meals are such an important time for relaxing. Take your time ordering, think about how you want to feel after the meal and try and grab a good view for people or landscape watching if you can.

And I wanted to feel like I’d had a beer, so I had one!

Take some quiet time

I chose a spa to enjoy my quiet time. I know having a spa is not always possible in everyday life, but the concept of relaxing and resting after a day out usually is.

I was umming and ahhing about heading down to the spa alone but as soon as I got there I felt much more relaxed. I read my book, eased my muscles after a day out - it was perfect.

Escape via fiction or music

My default when I have ‘spare time’ is to start scrolling through my phone. Checking social media and, more frequently, clicking on self-help-style blog posts usually leads me down the rabbit hole to new books, courses and theories I could be learning about.

The internet pulls us in many mental directions, so I’ve been trying to use my spare time to either read some fiction, or put on a great playlist.

I still get the enjoyment and entertainment I’m after, but it’s more relaxing than filling my brain with self development (read: ‘you’re not good enough’) ideas.

Catch up with friends

Another no brainer I think. Good conversation and spending time with people we care about fills us up emotionally more than any other activity.

If you’re in a slump or even after a relaxing day, call a friend or family member up and relish in the quality time together.

What do you do on holidays that you neglect to do in everyday life?

 

Light Links: August

Spring is finally on its way to Australia. Longer days and sunshine do make a difference to my mood, no matter how I try and accept winter.

I’ve been trying to inject some more fun into my days this month. I’ve been making sure I schedule fun catch ups and self care early in the week, so I’m not always hanging out for the weekend.

Some of those self care occasions involve reading my favourite blogs. My favourite links from this month are below - enjoy!

Wondering how to simplify your days? I need to focus on #4.

I think Mindy Kaling is my hero. Here’s an essay from her on confidence (and her interesting view on mistakenly labelling people as ‘workaholics’). Plus Stephen Colbert loves her too = win. 

If you personally need some ideas on self-care, read this. I love the cute flow chart.

This one was very popular on my social media this month - what to do if you’re feeling burnt out and unmotivated

On that note, I’m off on holidays for a week! For all you planners out there, here’s some ideas on how to make the most of a day off.

And if you’re interested in holidaying like it’s 1999, read this:

“You bring a paperback book and a fancy new yellow Sony CD player. You have a drink, read a little and relax.When your friends show up, you snap a few group photos with a disposable film camera (there’s no such thing as a selfie yet) and hope they turned out O.K. It’s heaven."

Light Links: July

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Welcome to the monthly round up of my favourite links. I have to say I’ve been laying low this month as the weather has been pretty grim here in Melbourne - leaving more time for me to find great links for you to enjoy.

Despite many quiet evenings, I have also been spending a lot of time with friends and family.

I often forget how much relationships fill you up in between a busy work and home schedule.

And of course I had a fabulous time with the visitor I mentioned in this post. I hope you’re spending time with people who matter, and can also take some downtime to read through and get some take aways from these links:

I’m pretty much obsessed with the concept of intuitive eating lately. Here’s the basics. Could you make this mindset shift?

How many days a week do you take 8 hours for play? That’s the premise of work life balance.

I’m not too sure I have a good relationship with my smartphone but this article got me thinking about ways I could be more mindful. I’m good at #5, #10 and #13, but pretty awful with #12 and #22.

My husband is on holiday at the moment so I’m living vicariously through him by reading articles like this and this.

And for the parents out there. It doesn’t sound confusing at all…

Alissa Vitti has been popping up in my feeds a lot over the last few weeks. Jess Lively interviewed her last week about hormones and the power of your period. Very interesting stuff.


What stood out to you on the internet this month? Let me know in the comments below.