This past week has just been one of those weeks. The kind with a to-do list that feels a mile long, several appointments, later bedtimes and no down time to just kick around the house. Not my favorite kind of week, that’s for sure. It’s left me dreary, a bit stressed and overall out of whack. All I really want to do tonight is put my feet up and do, well, nothing!
I want to order take-away, rent a dvd and eat too much chocolate. I want to forget about the pile of laundry, bloated inbox and carpets cluttered with dog hair (oh, Roxy!). I want to do these things but something is holding me back. That twinge of GUILT.
“You’re being lazy if you don’t cook dinner.”
“What a waste of money when you’ve already got food in the fridge.”
“You need to answer those emails; people are waiting to hear back.”
“Your house is too messy. How embarrassing if someone comes over.”
Guilt creeps in and tells me to push, strive, work harder. It makes me feel worthless for wanting to take it easy. Relaxation is for the lazy ones and self-care, pfff, that’s for the selfish kind.
Going wayyy back to my childhood, I’ve always been a high achiever. I place crazy expectations on myself and subsequently need to do all things well. Throughout my life, this has looked like straight As, overcommitting myself to multiple projects, and pressing on even when sick.
I used to hate missing school when I was sick because I thought people would think I was lazy. That, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything. I vividly remember my seventeen-year-old self sobbing because I so desperately wanted to go to school but couldn’t. What the heck was I thinking?
I’ll tell you what. Guilt was doing the thinking for me. Even when I was as sick as a dog and unable to move off the living room couch, guilt still made me feel like a lazybones. If it couldn’t let me relax in my worst of states, of course it wasn’t going to give me permission just because my to-do list got a little too long this week!
But, you know what I’ve come to realize? Guilt needs to be kicked to the curb!
That’s right, it’s natural! Wanting to relax and have a bit of down time is completely normal and healthy. Relaxation isn’t something to feel bad about or make excuses for doing.
If you spend the entire time feeling guilty about a little self-indulgent relaxation, then you aren’t fully embracing the moment. You aren’t truly relaxing, which means you sure aren’t doing the one thing you want to be doing!
Our bodies operate in cycles. Quarterly with the seasons, daily with waking and sleeping. Even women’s menstrual periods are on a monthly cycle.
Ultradian Rhythm is a type of body rhythm that ebbs and flows throughout each 24-hour day. And this type of body rhythm verifies the utmost importance for relaxation and self-care. Let me explain: your brain can focus intently for a span of about 90 to 120 minutes and then has a natural lull in concentration. In order to function optimally, your brain (and body!) needs to renew itself every 90 minutes.
In our current society, rest and rejuvenation are often seen as a luxury at best! Most of us work ourselves into the ground and find some skewed sense of validation in self-martyrdom. We have been trained into thinking that taking a break or relaxing after a busy day (or 90 minutes of intense focus, for that matter!) equals laziness.
But, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Relaxation, self-care and rejuvenation are all just as important as those moments of crankin’ out some of your best work. Life is all about balance and there is no reason to feel guilty about seeking it.
Next time your boss or that sneaky voice in your head tells you to ‘get back to work’, remember that your body—in all its innate wisdom—knows better.
And since I always practice what I preach (*wink*wink), I’m off to boil the kettle and crack open a good book.
// YOUR TURN: What’s your favorite relaxation or self-care activity? Share in the comments below!
To relaxing with intention,