One of the questions that has been recently posed to me by some friends is, in the quest to be the best version of myself, am I really taking time to just enjoy life, or is the constant mission to be super productive and fulfilled taking over, leaving no time for relaxation and enjoyment of the moment.
I’ve given this question lots of thought and I’m convinced that I am smelling the roses as I go, so to speak, and here’s why:
– Focus on happiness
I have spent a lot of time considering what makes me happy and possibly even more importantly, what makes me unhappy. I think it is this point that causes the most amount of debate. What some people typically think of as activities that relax you, I have consciously realised make me unhappy. Watching TV is a classic example. I’ve been asked ‘don’t you ever just chill out and watch TV?’ No. Because I have realised that watching TV frustrates me. I feel worse after a few hours of watching TV , than I did before I started, as I just feel that I have wasted my time. So whilst other people may feel it’s relaxing, I don’t. Therefore to relax I need to do things that make me happy. As everyone is different, these are not typically the same activities that others find relaxing, so their perception can be that I am running at 100 miles an hour and not taking time to enjoy the moment, but this isn’t the case.
– The stress of doing nothing
Doing nothing at all would not be enjoyable for me in any way. In some ways though, this really depends on your definition of ‘nothing’ When I’ve been asked whether I like spending time just doing nothing, in order to chill out, my usual response is to firstly understand what the definition of nothing is, for the person who has posed the question.
Often responses include chilling out with friends, reading, listening to music etc… None of these things meet my definition of doing nothing. In fact, it is really difficult for me to define what doing nothing really means. It’s quite basic for me. I feel like time is precious. If you work full time, you have evenings and weekends to yourself. I want to spend that time occupied with activities that give me the most enjoyment. If I fill my time with things that don’t give me enjoyment or satisfaction I feel frustrated and feel that I have misspent my time. This makes me feel stressed. Things for me that fall into the category are:
– aimlessly watching TV
– browsing the Internet with no purpose (I can waste an awful lot of time doing this!)
– procrastinating and putting things that I need to do off. Often flitting from one thing to the next never really achieving much
– playing Internet games such as candy crush etc..
– You can be relaxed even when your brain is active
I think that there is a certain perception that to relax you have to be doing something that doesn’t take much brain power. For me this isn’t true. I can feel relaxed when my brain is active. People talk about ‘down time’. For me this really means time spent doing the things I enjoy. They can still be physically or mentally taxing.
If I spend my evening being active, cooking a meal, achieving some of my to do list, writing, reading or any similar activities, when I go to bed, I am really physically tired and I tend to sleep really well. In turn this means I feel quite refreshed in the morning, with more energy and I find it easier to carry out the same sort of activities the following day.
I do also spend some time involved in the more stereo typically relaxing pastimes such as reading and yoga and I’ve also just started doing 10 minutes of mindfulness a day.
I’ve just written this blog post from a beach in Goa. I can tell you in no uncertain terms, I’m 100% relaxed and feel really satisfied that I have used my time wisely and am enjoying the moment of being here.
I’d love to hear your views on what you do to relax and what ‘downtime’ means for you.