Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reluctant to Relax (And How to Overcome this Resistance)

There are days when we speed through our routines.  I have to do this, and so we do it.  One after another, the things we ought to do pop up and we try to "get them over with" as quickly as possible.  After awhile, we don't even want to relax.  We'd rather stay active and keep producing, keep feeling that pat on the back for a job well done, another task accomplished.  And because of this habit, we will notice that for the day we've become rigid, irritable, stressed, and less loving.  We've become less accepting of our friends and less flexible in the face of life's obstacles. 

It's important to note that what we call work and what we call leisure overlap.  Writing is challenging work, but it is also rewarding, and many of us find it fun.  Relaxation can feel like stressful work when we make it goal-oriented.  An example of this might be trying really hard to think of nothing during a relaxation time and quitting the practice when we don't achieve the goal of a blank mind.  Personally, relaxation goals don't work well for me and I'd rather simply enjoy the moment.  I no longer try to achieve the state of a blank mind or enter trance-like states.

On the other hand, even work done with a cheerful spirit can become overwhelming and can stimulate our minds too much, so we work in moderation.  Even if something feels desirable, it doesn't always mean that we should be doing it at that exact time. 

Relaxing activities aren't always enjoyable to us either, especially when we're really restless.  They can feel boring at first, but we will be thankful later.

One way to know if a relaxing activity is right for you to do at the time is to assess your physical and mental status after performing it completely.  ("Does my mind feel calmer from this relaxing activity? Does my body feel refreshed?")

Many answers will be found in the body just by tuning into how it feels.  The same is true for realizing when we're overworked and are in need of relaxation.  Some signs of being in need of relaxation are a painful neck and back, tight shoulders, strained breathing, and racing thoughts.

Although relaxation proves to be beneficial, when we're constantly accomplishing tasks, we will naturally experience resistance to these activities.

To overcome this resistance, some strategies that might help are the following:
  • Write down necessary tasks instead of holding them in your mind all day, or trying to do them all at once because you're afraid you'll forget them.
  • Allow time for the most important ones, which can often get squeezed out by the more trivial ones.
  • Listen to a guided physical exercise recording.  When you're your own teacher every time, you can become stressed out by having to think of each part of your practice.  From time to time, a teacher can make your fitness practice more interesting.  Some days you'll feel motivated enough to guide your own sessions, and will find joy in doing so.  Be cautious about teachers who infuse their spiritual beliefs into their instructions and test them with the standards of truth.
  • Maintain consistency, not necessarily the duration of time.  (Right now I'm practicing one breathing exercise twice a day for less than five minutes total.  Some days I forget to do the first or second session, but I try to just view each day as a new opportunity.)
  • Try a non-formal relaxation practice until you feel ready to return to your more structured activities. Some examples of non-formal relaxation practices are listening to music, reading a magazine, taking a walk, taking a deep breath, drinking a cup of tea, saying a spontaneous prayer, or closing your eyes.) 
"It will all get done, just not all at once."

Hope this helps any of you who might be suffering from working too hard!


  1. Relaxation is so important... Great tips.

    Thank you, Jade.


  2. Taking some quiet time each day is important.

  3. This is a great set of advice I could really use. thanks!

  4. That's good advice. The mind and body will always tell us what they need, sometimes we just need to learn how to listen. :)

  5. Thanks you SOOOO much! I so needed this. I do tend to work too hard and forgo relaxation. Great post.

    Since I enjoy stopping by your blog, I chose you for the Stylish Blogger Award. You can read about it here.

  6. oh, relaxation is really important... and i really need it today. haha :) thanks, Jade... it's always so good to read you.

  7. I like guided meditation CDs. They worked great for me in college. Now I've purchased them for my children.

  8. I definitely get overwhelmed with all the to-dos floating around in my head. It's a struggle to remember that everything will get done in time. I want to rush and everything done right now.

    Thank you for the reminder to stop and smell the roses. A stroll through the garden is a great way for me to find peace and relax -usually. At this point, it just reminds me of all the work I need to do inside and outside! Argh! Deep breaths! Yes I will get it done. For now, your blog is providing me with the peace I need. Thank You!

    Blessings to you, Jade on this Good Friday.

  9. Wonderful advice, thank you. I am so bad at letting things overlap & then feeling stressed as I feel I have had no me time. x