In August of 2015, Princess Cruises released the results of a survey they conducted. The survey revealed that over half (54%) of Americans spend their days off dealing with personal obligations such as appointments rather than vacationing. The survey has been conducted for six years now. Each year it has revealed that stress levels continue to rise. One third of those polled in 2015 reported increased stress at the thought of relaxing. Sadly, 42% of Americans reported feeling guilty for relaxing on vacation. Shocking? Absurd maybe, but not shocking because many of us can relate to that guilt. And it’s not just when we are on vacation.
RELAXING IS HARD
Relaxing can be stressful. I am serious. Yesterday was Saturday. My day off so to speak. Not exactly though because I had an appointment with a client. Then I had to drive an hour away to bring the kids to a friend’s house for the night. After leaving them off, I decided to do something special for myself. It is not often I dine alone. It felt almost adventurous. I decided on Sushi because it is a rare treat for me. It was a bitterly cold day and I shivered as I sat down at the table. I quickly ordered a cup of steaming hot green tea. The lunch was great, but I had this nagging uneasiness the whole time. And the feeling grew the longer I sat there. You see, in my mind I was supposed to be rushing the hour back home so that I could tackle my to-do list. I had laundry to do, dinner to cook, and I had deadlines to meet. So much for treating myself. I was experiencing relaxation guilt.
Earlier today I sat down to write. I love to write. It calms me. It fills my soul. It is relaxing. I opened up my lap top and tried to focus my thoughts. Then I remembered I should go check the load of laundry. On my way back upstairs, I stopped in the kitchen. I decided to finish up the dishes. After completing that task I went back to my chair. I wondered for a moment as I sat down, if I should jump in the shower. The madness continued on. Relaxation guilt again. I need to learn the art of slowing down.
This is the never ending story of my life. It is a constant revolving issue of feeling too guilty to relax. Our lives are so busy. Especially for those of us with a family. There are activities to attend, appointments to go to, and chores to be done. Even though we have been told that relaxation is important for our physical and mental well-being we ignore the words of advice. How do we stop the madness?
SCHEDULE TIME TO BE UNSCHEDULED
We all need to relax for relaxation’s sake. We need to waste some time. We need to learn the art of slowing down. Something has to change. Tonight I updated my day planner. We have two doctor appointments this week. There was another one that I canceled because I can only handle so many appointments in one week. I penciled in an appointment with a client. I have two articles due this week. This is all separate from my full-time job. That has its own appointments. Sometimes it is hard to keep it all straight. The answer? I penciled in an appointment for relaxation.
Yes it has come to this point. And that is OK. If I have to schedule in relaxation time I will. If that’s what it takes, so be it. Scheduling time to be unscheduled is my new way of life until I can learn to relax without a prompt. There was a time in my life when I could sit for hours and read. It was one of my favorite activities. Weekends almost always involved watching movies. Often I would spend hours baking or cooking, something I love to do. Then I went back to work full-time and I began college again. After six years of school deadlines I think I have forgotten how to relax. During those years there was little time for fun and relaxation. Television was non-existent and books were a rare treat. Somewhere along the line, I lost the natural ability to relax. I only knew how to hustle. Hustling is necessary too, but there needs to be a balance.
My schedule in the future will look differently. Within the pages of my day planner I will see things such as dates with the television to watch my favorite show, coffee with friends, an hour to read a book, the occasional massage or some other treat. Or maybe just an hour just to BE. To slow down. I need it. Do you?
Be committed because it is important for your health and happiness. It can only make you a better person and you will be less tired, less anxious, and less cranky. You will do this for not only you, but for those in your life.
No more guilty relaxation. You have an appointment. You are committed to relaxation.