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I need to admit something to you: I am not very good at relaxing.
From the outside, I doubt you’d ever know or notice (lol . . . or maybe you would? I don’t know!). All of the classic “relaxing” buzzwords are in my every day life. From traveling abroad, to lingering at happy hour with friends, to sleeping in on my days off, I partake in a lot of “relaxing” activities, and yet I often find myself not very rested at the end of a day off, and also not very relaxed during the day. In fact, I realized this the hard way a few years ago when a long-awaited trip abroad ended up falling flat because I felt strained, constantly attached to my phone and unsure of what to “do” with myself.
So yeah, I’m maybe a bit uptight 😂 but I’m curious: have you ever felt this way while trying to relax? Have you ever spent a lot of time looking forward to a day off, only to find you don’t really know what to do with yourself?
Or, maybe you find that something that sounds relaxing and fun isn’t actually relaxing or fun when you actually get there. As someone very, very prone to FOMO, I have spent the last few years re-discovering what really helps me relax and make the most of lazy summer days off. And I’m here to share all about it with you today!
Sounds cheesy, but my husband and I have “core values” for our family, and one of them is “know yourself.” The idea behind this core value is that in order to make good decisions, care for yourself well and communicate your needs, you’ve got to listen to and know yourself. And I think this value is important when it comes to finding a rhythm of relaxing and resting!
Have you checked in with yourself on what hobbies, activities and relationships you enjoy the most? How has it changed over the last 5-10 years? Are there new experiences you are open to or want to try? If you haven’t explored this side of yourself in a while, it is definitely worth considering and experimenting.
Two things that I learned that I really love but haven’t spent much time doing in adulthood are reading fiction and playing tennis. Tbh, I had kind of burnt out of these things in my teenage years and I needed a break. When I opened myself back up to enjoying them again a few years ago, I found that I really loved them and that I was finally ready to spend time doing them again! This was a learning process – I had to figure out what elements I enjoyed most and which parts weren’t appealing (re-reading old favorites: yes, playing competitive-league tennis: nope).
I encourage you to rediscover the extra-curriculars of life that you enjoy most. Because if you don’t have something you’re specifically looking forward to filling your off-time with, you might find yourself not actually enjoying your days off!
If you have a typical work schedule, you probably have Saturdays and Sundays off. Even if your work schedule is a little more unusual, I’m guessing that you get at least two “off” days each week (I hope!). How do you typically spend those days? For me, I usually have a handful of chores or errands to run, or a household task or two that I’ve been putting off on work days.
When I realized I needed to make a more intentional effort at rest, I started considering what filled my days off. What I came to see was that those little tasks that I save for weekends actually often end up stressing me out more than work. To preserve a “rest” day that I could look forward to and enjoy, I started blocking 1 day/week purely for relaxing, restorative fun. I made sure that all those (important!) daily tasks of life got distributed between week nights and the other day(s) off each week so I could truly be “at rest” and not worrying about all the stuff I needed to get done.
More than anything, the 1 day/week block has allowed me to give myself permission to just chill. There are no “shoulds” on my rest day. Just fun!
Something about having an outfit for an occasion makes me want to go and do the thing that the outfit is for, ya know? One thing that the COVID era taught me was that even lounging fashion can still be fashion. I have a few super comfy, cute outfits that make me feel good when I wear them, and this has encouraged me to officially label my time as “relaxing” or “lounging” rather than feeling like I just rolled out of bed, all day long.
A relaxing outfit doesn’t have to be loungewear, either. Buy a fun new swimsuit, a colorful poolside coverup or even new slippers – whatever will help you get into a relaxed state of mind is encouraged.
Are you sick of hearing people tell you your phone isn’t good for your mental health? Me too. But . . . at least for me personally, it’s very true.
It’s true in the obvious ways: feeling FOMO when I see what others are doing on social media, easy access to work email or jumping back into work, not actually living in the moment.
But it’s also true in less obvious ways: when I feel uncertain of what to do, I often reach for my phone, robbing myself of an opportunity to actually sit and consider what I would most enjoy doing. I end up mindlessly scrolling or worse, getting sucked in to a work issue (boundary issues!!!) and then feeling stressed for the rest of the day.
For some who have more self control, it might just mean putting your phone on silent or ignoring messages. For me, I have found that I feel the most relaxed and enjoy my time the most if my phone is in a different room. Sometimes, I even leave my phone at home if I have a friend or Evan going with me somewhere. It’s been really freeing, helped me live more in the moment and most of all, feel truly relaxed!
It feels like the opposite of relaxation is planning out a schedule or following a plan for the day. And honestly, that might be true for you, especially if you are more Type B and have an easy time relaxing.
However, for the Type A, kinda intense folks out there (like me!), I actually find that I enjoy my off days the most when I’ve made some kind of plan in advance that I can look forward to. Sometimes, this is as elaborate as a full day out with friends at a winery or even a weekend trip with a full-fledged itinerary. More commonly, this is something as simple as planning to try a new restaurant and making the res in advance, or downloading a new book to my Kindle and planning a few hours to read by the pool when the weather looks nicest.
On the flip side, I find myself feeling pretty disappointed and sometimes even anxious when I have a totally clear Saturday with nothing planned in advance. It’s harder to actually motivate myself to get out of the house and do something fun, or fully commit to a day at home to completely vegetate on the couch or on the rooftop pool.
The TL;DR: planning out your days off allow you to get the most enjoyment out of them because you’re able to look forward to them in advance and are more likely to follow through on actually doing something fun.
Last but certainly not least, allow yourself to be impulsive and sometimes just go with what sounds fun! Especially in the summer, I feel like so many things will randomly pop up that are worth just going for, without thinking much about it. This honestly sounds like it’s completely contradicting several other points I made earlier . . . and it is. LOL. But rules are meant to be broken, and the previous advice is really about mindset and being intentional about caring for yourself. Sometimes the best way to care for yourself is to go with the flow and just say yes!
And if you’re a generally impulsive person . . . maybe the most impulsive thing that you can do for yourself is to actually stick to a plan that you’re looking forward to, trusting that it’s a good one and allowing yourself to be free from FOMO!
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