Recently, I was thinking about the role relaxation plays in maintaining a sense of balance in my life.
Most days of the week, I’m at work from 8am until 5pm. I’m usually a relatively focused worker–I’m known for making to-do lists and not resting until I’ve completed a big chunk of my goals for the day. At some point during college, I stopped being a procrastinator and started being a task-master.
While this trait is [hopefully] an asset for my future employers, I struggle with maintaining a good sense of balance between my work time and my personal time. I think this has always been a difficulty for me, as I tend to get really interested or engrossed in one topic or activity, spend all my time focused on that one topic or activity for a couple weeks or months, and then move on to the next thing.
If I’m focused on my fitness, I’ve had months where I’ll workout for an hour or two every day for a couple months, and then I’ll get a cold or travel or the weather changes, and it’ll put an end to my workouts for two or three months. If I find a game I really like, I’ll play everyday for two or three weeks, whenever I have free time, and then get bored and move on…and for the last year, I find myself moving on to work.
Then I find myself spending way too much of my time at home doing work, which prevents me from finding and maintaining a healthy balance between my personal and work time–and also can lead to some negative feelings toward coworkers that aren’t putting the same effort into their work.
When I come home from work, there are usually a few things I want to do that evening: dinner, yoga, shower. It seems like a pretty simple task list, but it usually ends up being 9pm before I start my daily yoga. Why? Because I want to “relax” after work before I start doing more things on my to-do list.
Last weekend, I had a great Saturday and an okay Sunday. So Sunday night I started comparing the two days to see what made one so much more satisfying for me than the other. On Saturday I slept in, skyped with my mother, ate a healthy lunch, did some early afternoon yoga, cleaned the house, showered, and then putsed around online–and refused to do any work. On Sunday I had slept in, and then spent the majority of the day doing productive tasks on my computer, mostly for work.
While it probably seems obvious, I clearly didn’t find my Sunday satisfying because I was 1) on my computer most of the day, and 2) working during my personal time. The other, more important thing that I realized was that all of the things I did on Saturday, while they were still productive undertakings, were also relaxing activities for me.
I realized that for me, and probably for many others, relaxing has unconsciously become synonymous with wasting time. When I come home and think, “I just want to relax before working out,” I’m really feeling that I want some time where I’m not focused on being productive or accomplishing something. I use the internet as a tool to accomplish that, because–lets face it–it’s so easy to spend hours accomplishing nothing on the internet. If I instead used exercise and cooking and showering and cleaning, all things I know are relaxing and productive and healthy, I would feel much more balanced and thus fulfilled and satisfied with my day.
In order to help myself start using these more healthful and productive methods of relaxation, I’ve decided to start taking the first half hour of my personal time at home, after work, to do absolutely nothing. No internet or computer, no reading, no cleaning. Just sitting and being with myself to unwind, gather my thoughts, and shift my focus to myself and my well-being.
❤ Link love: If you’re looking for life tips on keeping a balanced and healthy lifestyle, I’ve found myself seeking out zenhabits.com for healthy advice. Here’s a link to one of the recent posts on relaxation: The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better
~the little bunny