Relaxation – just the word makes me sigh pleasantly. But when was the last time you really did nothing? No technology, no racing thoughts, no mindless entertainment, just pure relaxation?
It’s summer in my house, and that means everyone is home. My husband is a teacher, and my two school aged kids are enjoying the later wake ups. That also means that our routine is out the window, schedules are just theories, and quiet is often reserved for the wee hours of the morning, when I would rather be sleeping. We live in a world that is over-programmed, always busy, technologically saturated, the opposite of relaxed. And I don’t think we’re the better for it.
But recently, I had the opportunity to head to Chicago for a weekend with some old friends. We’ve known each other over a decade, but don’t see each other as often as we’d like. So one of our friends takes time each year to plan a little getaway – we call it “The Relax.” No schedule, no plan, no mandatory activities. Just good friends, good food, good wine, and lots of relaxation. We spend a lot of time just doing nothing. And it was amazing! So here are some of my reflections on practicing the art of relaxation.
Relaxation and Nature
One of the easiest ways for me to relax and enjoy nothing is to be out in nature. Go for a walk, sit outside and just watch the clouds go by. Or if there aren’t any clouds, just listen – can you hear any birds? What about frogs or insects? Maybe you can hear the wind blowing through the trees, or the waves crashing on the beach (if you are near the water). Take time to just be….yes, you may be walking or rocking in a lovely chair, but just take in the world around you. What do you see, hear, smell? Can you feel the breeze on your cheek? Take some deep breaths and be conscious of inhaling and exhaling. Don’t be in a hurry to move on to the next thing.
Relaxation and Friends
Despite all our social media connectedness, good friends can be hard to find. Invest in the ones you have. Don’t just settle for a text or an email. There is no substitute for being present with those we love. So have a friend over, make a pot of coffee, or a cup of tea. Go for a walk, or just sit on your couch. Talk about life, listen to their stories, laugh out loud, or just enjoy being together in quiet. Sometimes, we think we need to fill the silence when we’re with others. What if we could simply sit together and relax?
Relaxation and Hobbies
Relaxation doesn’t have to be still silence all the time. Taking time to engage in hobbies that you love can also be relaxing. Read a book, play a game, paint, color, do a puzzle. The list of possible hobbies is endless. We spend so much of our day doing the tasks that need to be done for our daily lives to run smoothly. When do we stop to do something simply because it’s fun and we enjoy it? Children know the value of playing, but somehow we grow older and “wiser” and have no time for play. Think for a moment about those things you really enjoy and then do those things!
So how about it? Are you ready to spend some time doing “nothing”?