The ART of Relaxation. How to let go and relax…. Even when you feel you have 10,000 things you could be doing.
Phew! Here it is. I have reached the holiday. The honeymoon. The long awaited time to do some much needed relaxation! Something I have been looking forward to and working towards for the last three months. Ever since our wedding, my husband and I have been working very hard to take one month off. With us both owning our own businesses there is a lot to consider and plan to be away for so long. So as I sit on the beach of Fiji, on my honeymoon and feel a sense of worry and overwhelm overcome me, I wonder… being exactly where I want to be and where I had planned to be, why do I still think of the 10,000 things that I could, should or want to be doing and worry that it will not get done. This is all part of the ART of relaxing. As a task focused doer, this can be exceptionally hard to master not only on holiday, but in our everyday lives… So how do we do it? I believe there are 5 keys to the ART of relaxation and I discuss them here.
Relaxation 101: Let go of control! Go with the flow!
I love the feeling of traveling on an airplane. There is literally nothing else you could be doing except sitting in a seat, watching movies, reading, writing or sleeping. You are confined to a space and know that you have a certain amount of time until your destination. I spend the time watching the movie Concussion (I LOVE movies based on true events that have inspiring stories). Something I have been wanting to do for a long time however had not had the opportunity due to recent technology glitches (the patience and letting go is a blog all on its own!) and time constraints! As I reflect on this moment, how come I was happy in this moment? I had no option of what I could do. I had relinquished control. I had let go and I had surrendered to the aircraft crew. They were now in control of what was to come.
We need to take a lesson in this, to relinquish control and go with the flow… wherever we are. As I sit on the beach in Fiji – I have options. I have my computer with me however I know this is the week to be unplugged. I shouldn’t be logging online on my honeymoon. As I sit and relax, the flash of my ‘to-do’ list catches my breath and I have now ignited the worry thoughts. I should be writing the next blog… when will I get the time if not now? I should be editing my new journal; I have to get it out to my members Isn’t the BAS due? Am I late? I probably don’t have connection to the internet here…
Relaxation 102: Worry is an unhelpful emotion
Through my work on my own emotional intelligence I feel my stomach tense, my thoughts get cloudy, I go distant and I need quiet. It may sound weird, but knowing this about myself helps me to change the emotion quickly instead of entertaining it and the feeling getting worse. My emotional awareness helps me to recognise that I am feeling worried and I know if I entertain this emotion with the same thoughts that have created my worry, such as focusing on what I am worried about I will get on the train of worry and most likely catch the train all the way to fear. Often we have an unhelpful emotion, like worry or overwhelm it is proceeded by unhelpful thoughts. Therefore, I need to understand what I am saying to myself in these moments and switch up the self-talk. The quicker I can do this, the faster I stop the train and have the opportunity to move in the other direction.
The easiest thing to do here is to pivot on your worry. If you know what you don’t want to happen then you know what you don’t want to happen. This is called ‘what-if’ing in the positive and is such a valuable tool to use when you are drowning in your own thoughts. Think about all the things you would like to happen, what if it goes right. I also use deliberate thinking to change up the thoughts. This is focused positive thoughts, or affirmations. My sayings of choice are (italics are why this makes me feel better – don’t say these!):
- Life is always working out for me (gives me a sense of trust and relinquishes the need to strangle every moment through control)
- Something good comes from everything (eases the worry)
- I am not sure what, but something good is coming (moves me up to positive expectation)
Relaxation 103: You will never get it done
This may sound negative but it is not meant to be. We are creative, goal setting beings and even if I had completed what I needed to or thought I should have, there is always something else that I am working on therefore, it will never be done. If we are done, we are dead. This helps me to put into context my feelings of worry. I know that there will always be another blog to write, another dish to wash, another journal to write, another workout to do. Just remembering that I will never get it done, gives me a sense of relief and ease and softens the worry thoughts.
Relaxation 104: We are human beings not human doings
However, this is not our natural state of existence. As stated… we are human beings. To be. Not to do. For an obsessive doer, even the 5 minutes of meditation at the end of a yoga class used to give me anxiety thinking I could be making a head start to dinner! These days I can relax into meditation however it has taken me a great understanding of where my anxiety comes from. Over time our sense of worth has been defined by the action we take. We define our existence by how much we have achieved. If we have not ticked off our list, achieved that goal or done that thing we promised our boss, our sense of worth takes a kick. However, our sense of worth need not come from our action. Our sense of worth is born from the person we just are, not from the action we take. If we dig down, there is often an underlying fear that without our doing, things will not be as they need to be and we will lose a person’s trust, respect or love. We need to start to trust that everything is as it should be. Always. And that taking time out to just ‘be’ is at our core. That is why we crave holidays. Crave the feeling of ‘nothing to do’. We need to understand that “being” is just as important as “doing”. To break our default doing, we need to build up our sense of “being”. Ease yourself into it. It can feel strange at first, so schedule in some time not doing anything. Know that this is just your BE time. Then by the time you are on a holiday, this will feel like more a natural state for yourself.
Relaxation 105: Have positive expectation
The biggest lesson in my life to date has been to just let it be. And this is the key to finding the relaxation state we are searching for. I cannot control everything and everyone to make things turn out the way I would like it.
In fact, I innately believe that the universe is conspiring with me (this has been something I have had to work on!) and that everything will always work out. I know that through my positive thinking I can get myself to a state of positive expectation. This is a state where you just know… no matter what reality is showing up for you… that things are going to work out. Even in the ugly moments, there is always something good to come out of it. I generally have a sense of positive expectation and if I don’t, like the worry that overcame me recently, I know I can pivot myself to focus on what I want to happen, instead of focusing on what I don’t want to happen. Here are some more affirmations which help me to improve my sense of positive expectation:
- Everything is as it should be
- I trust in the process of life
- I am perfect whole and complete, just the way it is
As I sit here and write this, I am filled with gratitude to have had the overwhelm and worry so that I can bring you a blog which helps you to overcome it when you are faced with the same! To summarise… here are some tips to help you with The ART of Relaxation:
- Use positive affirmations or deliberate thinking to slow your worry thoughts and send you on a more positive thinking path
- Schedule in some BE Time. This is more than just ME time. All you need is fifteen minutes a day to improve the way you feel. This is scheduling in time for you to relax, meditate, journal, say affirmations, listen to an audio… something that may have no apparent outcome, just a positive way to give back to yourself positively even if only for a short space of time.
- Breathe. Trust.... and let go!