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?

Best of Where the Light Plays 2016

Happy new year readers!

I sincerely hope it was a good one and you're looking forward to 2017. And, if it wasn't, or you're not, I hope you realise the construct of years is not such a big deal and you just keep going for today...

Looking back at the blog in 2016, I feel like I have learned a lot and am thankful to say, the posts full of those learnings were most popular with you readers.

From working on my negative thinking with Brooke Castillo's self coaching model, to continuing with intuitive eating (thanks Paige!), through to the eternal struggle of being super productive, while also making time for pleasure and relaxation - I'd say I've been working on it all. No wonder I needed this holiday break!

Enjoy revisiting your favourite posts below and thank you for coming by week after week to read my musings.

I truly love writing here and can't wait to connect with more of you in 2017. I'm taking a couple of weeks break, then will be back with more ideas for you to try out for the new year. 

I'd love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook what posts you'd like to see in 2017.

Top 5 Posts on Where the Light Plays 2016

 

Do You Feel Guilty For Relaxing?

There’s certainly a pattern forming in the types of posts here on the blog (see here for example).

Women in all sorts of lifestyle situations (single, partnered, parents) are either taking no time to relax or, when they do find time to unwind, they feel a strong sense of guilt for taking downtime.

Where did we learn to keep so busy?

I’m sure it’s a mix of factors - comparison against other women’s lifestyles, productivity articles, societal changes. Somehow we now wear being productive as a badge of honour.

How many hours we’re working, how often we’re exercising, how organised we are at home are now seen as measures of success or self worth.

This mentality is in direct competition with lazy mornings, spare time with loved ones and long walks (without burning calories in mind).

What will your life be made up of?

I spoke to Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot about this and loved her response. She asked me if I wanted a large chunk of my life to be taken up with relaxation and enjoyable downtime activities. Absolutely yes, was my response. This really helps my mentality and I hope it helps you too.

Personally, I am planning on a life full of books, music and film, as well as time outdoors enjoying nature.

What is the damage of busy work?

The above point leads me into the idea of busy work and the inability to relax.

We really need to prioritise being present over the menial tasks of the day - it’s not a long term way to live to be constantly on the go, pottering around the house or ticking through your to do list.

Yes it has its place, but it’s usually not the time memories are made.

Do you find time to relax? Do you rate relaxation as highly as productivity? Let me know in the comments below.

 

The Birthday Post: 5 Lessons Learned

Well happy birthday to me! Another year has passed and I’m following my blogging tradition of summing up the lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months. You can read last year’s post here

Let’s do this:

1. I measured my success by how much fun I’m having.

I’m going to post more about this in the future, but as we move deeper into adulthood, do you think we have we forgotten to have fun?

Between work, fitness, mortgages, kids, are we just slogging through life? I definitely was - or more specifically I was slogging it through to Friday, then finding solace in a pizza or bottle of vino.

This past year I’ve prioritised fun and I make sure I have something enjoyable to look forward to every, single day.

Examples of this include taking myself to lunch each Monday (rather than working through my lunch break while chowing down leftovers) and taking a bath on a Wednesday evening with a good book and a margarita. Don’t judge me, I’m having a blast ;)

2. I toned down on self-improvement.

My love of podcasts goes deep and whenever I’m alone I’m listening to one. This includes during my commute, on my lunch break, at the gym and while cooking.

What I didn’t realise was the insidious nature of the content I was listening to.

Many of the podcasts I listen to are about self-improvement and productivity, and often involve interviews with people who have written books or created courses on ways to improve yourself.

I was finding myself thinking ‘ooh, I should do that/buy that book/sign up for that course’ and it was exhausting me.

Even though you think you’re improving yourself (and that's got to be a good thing right?) there’s a time and a place for just ‘being’. Prioritising relaxation during your spare time is so important.

Nowadays I turn on some great music, or listen to a more ‘story-telling’ podcast, aka This American Life: activities that I find enjoyable, but that don't drive me to try and fix myself.

3. I broke up with diets.

Holy smokes, this was a big one for me. Let me know if you’d like a more in depth post on this, but thanks to the help of Paige Schmidt, I have at last broken up with trying to change my body. As a woman this is huge, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I unfollowed all health and fitness accounts on social media, I unsubscribed from any healthy eating plans that were turning up in my inbox promising huge changes, and I now follow intuitive eating principles.

I’ve been eating as I please and doing the exercise that sounds good to me for about 8 months now and lo and behold (even though I very rarely weigh myself now) I haven’t gained any weight.

In past years, I would have been struggling with what I ate, forcing myself to do exercise I thought I 'should' be doing, and hoping I could shift the scale by at least a few kilograms. And for what?

4. I asked for help around the house.

Another big one for me. In line with the superwoman / maternal gatekeeping mentality, I was keeping it all together at home, trying to keep the house clean and working through a seemingly never-ending list of tasks around the house.

My husband has never been against splitting the cleaning, but I would either try and take it all on myself or criticise him for not doing enough / not doing it 'right'. Sound familiar?

So at last I asked for help. We drew up all the jobs that need doing and how often, and we split them 50/50. My to do list around the house is much more manageable and I can depend on my husband to do his share.

5. I focused on my relationships.

Relationships have been a big focus for me in the last year. Since using the Stop, Breathe, Think app, meditation has helped me get out of my own head and focus on the happiness of others. A la the self-improvement lesson, we can sit around pondering if we’re doing life ‘right’, or we can shift the focus outward.

When I go out to dinner with my husband, go on a walk with a girlfriend or call a family member for a long chat, I fill myself up and can focus on the bigger picture. It makes me grateful and it makes me happy.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Where I'm At with Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot

Squeal! I am super excited to feature Paige Schmidt from Healthy Hits the Spot on the blog today. I looked back and I've now been reading Paige's blog for almost 3 years.

She is famous for posting her 'daily eats', but even more importantly for her views on intuitive eating and breaking up with diets.

Paige has been a huge influence on helping me move to intuitive eating and I can't wait for you all to read her interview.

I'd also urge you to follow her blog and social media if you are in need of a positive influence in your 'web life'.

What is your usual wake up time?

Since I work from home, my schedule is pretty flexible in the early morning and late evenings. I mostly plan those times according to my husband’s current work schedule so that we get the most time together. Currently, we’ll wake up anytime between 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM. 

How do you like to start your day?

During the week, our day starts with coffee, making the bed (hubby does this), cooking breakfast (I do this), cleaning up (both do this), praying together before he heads to work, and then I sit down and work on my blog.

Once I’m done blogging, I’ll usually jump in the shower and get ready for the day, and start work early on. I love answering emails from my clients in the morning and early afternoon.

There are also seasons in my life where I’m really great at incorporating morning quiet time, which I love… This includes reading a devotional, a little bit of my bible, and journaling. With our current schedule, I haven’t quite figured out how to get that quiet time plugged in, but I do love that time when I have it… For now, my quiet time has been praying with my husband before he leaves for the day. 

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

I love a little bit of both. My personality definitely leans more toward the planning side. When things are planned, I feel like I can look forward to them for a longer period of time, which brings me a lot of joy. 

To create balance for myself (I talk about this in my eBook [http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com/shop/]), I typically plan more of the work week and leave room for spontaneity on the weekends.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

When it’s time for lunch, I shut down the screen on my computer, head to the kitchen, and enjoy a quiet lunch.

I leave my phone behind, and sit at the table so I can enjoy some peace, quiet, and a few non-work moments as a recharge. I’ll often step outside for a few minutes too, just to get some fresh air. 

Right before I head back to my office, I’ll usually make a hot cup of peppermint tea to sip on as I ease back into working. This feels refreshing and helps me to “recharge.”

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

I don’t have one. I aim to move my body in some form each day, and I’ll ask myself each day what would feel good and what I would enjoy. Some days this might look like a walk, others it might look like a run outside, or a trip to the gym to hop on the elliptical and lift weights.

As a woman, I try my best to honour that my body has different needs day to day. 

How do you like to end your day?

During the week, if my husband is home at a decent time (5:00 PM), we’ll usually have dinner together, walk around downtown, and watch Netflix shows together. Some nights we’ll walk to the nearest RedBox and pick out a movie. 

If my husband is working a long day (home around 10:00 PM) I have the evening to myself. In this case, I’ll eat dinner whenever I get hungry, I usually find myself taking a long hot bath, I’ll likely spend a little time at the gym, and I’ll end my night with reading in bed. I don’t enjoy TV or shows much when I’m alone.

What time do you doze off?

I go to bed anywhere between 8:30 and 10:30 depending on what time I’m waking up the next day. During certain seasons I have to wake up at 4:30, and in those seasons we’ll go to bed at 8:30. Right now, as I’m waking up between 6:00 and 7:30 I usually fall asleep around 10:00 or 10:30.

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Hmm… Good question! If I had to choose, I would say quiet time.

However, I really don’t love setting goals over and over and not reaching them, so I often like to get realistic with myself.

If I haven’t been doing it, and I’m fighting it day in and day out, I usually cut myself some slack and just take it out of my routine completely until I realise that I miss it and would like to bring it back. 

I’m a fan of following through with what I’ve told myself I’ll do because I really believe it’s important to create trust with ourselves.

That being said, if I occasionally plan to exercise, or something along these lines, and change my mind later on, I do my best to make this a conscious choice. So, instead of saying “I have no time or control over my schedule, I just can’t go.” I’ll say something like “Realistically, things come up, and for today, going to the movies with my husband (for example) feels more rewarding than sticking to my goal of exercising this evening. So, I’m making a choice to enjoy the movies and quality time instead.”

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Remain calm. Don’t be hard on yourself. Take good care of yourself.

When we feel taken care of (by our own selves) we’ll feel happier, more in line with who we were created to be, and we’ll feel more valued.

Can you give my readers your go to recipe for after a busy day?

Above all else know that you don’t have to have endless time to be healthy. Feeling good and healthy in your body is not as hard as some people make it out to be.

Here’s a post I wrote on eating your favourite foods and feeling healthy too! http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com/2014/05/07/you-can-eat-your-favorite-foods-be-healthy-too/. (Ed: So many delicious recipes here!)

Thanks Paige! What really hit home for me with this interview is changing your goals according to what is working for you, and not being hard on yourself if you consciously choose to do something else. 

You can read Paige's blog and follow her over at:

Website - http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-Hits-the-Spot/109111482522205

Twitter - http://twitter.com/HealthyHitsspot

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