Sometimes it's hard for me to relax. There's something in my brain that just keeps wanting to do things, to work on things, to accomplish things. Sometimes I'll sit down with the intention of relaxing only to find myself getting antsy after five minutes and starting to do some sort of task or another, not really honoring my original intention of relaxing. I think it's this tendency to not honor my need for rest that concerns me most of all. After all, the human body and mind both need rest, and they both need the opportunity to experience down time, relaxing time, recharging time. If I don't honor that need, then what good am I doing myself?
So sometimes I simply force myself to relax. I put myself in a situation in which I don't have access to anything that could switch me to a task. I can go for a long run or a long walk and force myself to go a certain distance so that I can guarantee myself a certain amount of time before I can get started doing something "productive." I often turn off the computer and sit down with a book and give myself a minimum number of pages that I have to read before I can do something else. Usually I'm ready to do something else after five pages or so, but if I've committed to fifty, then I honor that commitment. Sometimes I'll go for a drive and find someplace far away from home, armed with just a book--not a notebook that would tempt me to write--or even a picnic lunch.
We need to honor our own needs if we're to get the most out of this life. Constantly being busy, constantly focusing on tasks that we have to accomplish, can lead us to frustration and burnout. It's easy to rationalize and say "this needs to be done," but the simple truth is that not as much needs to be done as we think. And not everything needs to be done now, does it?
When I was a kid, I knew how to relax. I knew how to do nothing and how to enjoy it. Fishing was great for that--when I was a kid, I could spend hours on the pier, doing nothing but fishing--which, when all was said and done, wasn't much. I didn't have the responsibilities of adulthood, the requirements of jobs and family, and my down time was great for me. I need to learn a bit more from my younger self, and allow myself to do nothing again. If I can do that, then I can make some progress in this life, and stop trying to accomplish so much so often. Relaxation is beautiful, but only when we truly can let go and enjoy it--and that becomes much more difficult as we get older. Difficult, but not impossible.