I’m pretty sure I’m not relaxing ‘right.’ Are you?

 

On January 1st, I took (what I believed to be) a well-deserved day off.  I’d worked 12 hours on December 30th and spent much of New Year’s Eve standing in line at the post office, making champagne jello shots, and trying to fashion an ugly thrift store sweater into something NYE party-appropriate.

So how did I spend that day off?
I’d like very much to tell you that I spent my day taking long walks to see the last of the holiday lights, stirring together a new recipe, catching a matinee with my BFF, and then sharing a few glasses of wine with my dude. (In this fantasy I’m also wearing one of those outfits that’s simultaneously comfortable and cute.)

I did not do those things.
I didn’t really get up till noon (which is fine! and relaxing!). I spent the afternoon shuffling between various social media platforms and intermittently checking email (which I had no intention of answering.)  I had a half-assed meal of carrots and hummus and some chocolate pudding I ate out of a juice glass. I half-watched Bachelorette while (again) intermittently checking my email/Twitter/Facebook. I read the last bit of my book club book slouched deep in my sofa and then went to bed at 9:30.
Now. In the greater scheme of Lazy Days this is nothing to sneeze at and everybody is allowed to be lazy and relax however they want.  But here’s the thing:
I did not finish out this day feeling even vaguely relaxed.
I felt the way I feel after any given week day.  Fine.  Not keyed up or stressed out. But did I feel rejuvenated and replenished and full of clever ideas that I could use to start the new year?  I did not. 
Not surprisingly, this lead to a probably obvious epiphany:
A relaxing day should look + feel totally different than a work day.My work day = social media, computer screens, lots of alone time, writing, Google docs, mid-day errands, lots of email checking.
My days off? Should not be filled with the same ever-loving things.My weekends are frequently filled with parties and friends. But they’re also filled with social media, writing, and a lot of email checking. It might be personal project I’m writing and tweets about my pre-party playlist, but it’s hard to fully decompress when the line between worktime and playtime is so blurry.

So while I’m not really one for resolutions (because I’m a dork who makes goals all year round), this year I’m going to try to relax right. I’m going to spend weekends at museums and music venues. I’m going to read books (like, the paper kind) and work on projects with my hands. If I eat junk food, it’s going to be really amazing junk food and if I watch something on a screen, it’s going to be a real screen – not my laptop sitting on my stomach.

I’m going to work harder to create a divide between the way I spend my time on and off the clock. I’m going to emerge from my weekend energized and inspired.
And not strung out from falling down an internet hole of Beyonce interviews.


Do you find yourself engaging in weekend behavior that’s not actually relaxing?  What do you do that really helps you mellow out? 
photo by steve garfield // cc

12 Comments

Xandra Burns

YES. Learning how to relax right was probably the best thing I learned at university. I would take an entire day off to either rush around London soaking up culture, or to climb in the mountains soaking up nature. The important thing was to get out of Oxford, and away from the libraries and my computer!

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Jess

I do this too. I think I confuse "relax" with "do absolutely nothing in particular." They aren't the same thing. I think a relaxing day (even if you sleep in, or take a long bath, whatever) should still involve activity –just not activity that is too mentally taxing or strenuous. However, I often find that on my rare day off, I lay in bed for a long time perusing things on my tiny phone screen, ordering take-out and ambling around target looking for *nothing* that I actually need. At the end of the day, I've achieved nothing. It isn't my goal to achieve a lot on my day off, but after a day like that, I can hardly even say I enjoyed myself.

Ideally, my "relaxing days" would involve sleeping in a little longer, taking the time to cook a proper breakfast, going for a hike, cozying up with a book and some good tea, and maybe meeting up with friends later in the day. This is what I'm striving for!

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Samantha

Hi Jess, just reading your comment – I agree – sometimes I confuse the two as well – and those literally do nothing days can actually be a bit damaging because they make me so tired and lethargic. Activity is still important on relaxing days!!

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Mia Moore

I relate to this SO hard. My job, my schoolwork, and my hobbies revolve around social media and using a computer. Of course I still like this stuff, but I am realizing more and more that when I turn my phone off (okay, who am I kidding, on silent) and read a book, I feel infinitely more relaxed. Wayyy better than checking my Twitter feed over and over before falling asleep.

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Sam

Learning to relax is something I am majorly struggling with – I am actually in hospital right now because I injured myself through excessive stress – I am a singer and basically I blew air to hard which created like a pocket of air on my larynx which became infected when I started stressing about stupid life things last week and BAM five days later I am still in high dependency because this air pocket was crushing my throat – ridiculous right! I need to work on relaxing, I am pretty sure my stress management is my boyfriend's new number one priority!!

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Jess H.

This is such a great post, and I'm sure one that many people can relate to! This year, I've vowed to cut back on scrolling through Twitter and Instagram on my phone out of boredom. I also got a TV for my bedroom over Christmas, and have promised myself to NEVER start up Netflix without knowing exactly which show and episode I'm going to watch. I totally accept TV as a welcomed break and treat for hard work, but I don't want to ever just throw something on for the sake of it, you know? Anyway, great post! I hope you get another day to yourself soon, because your idea of a perfect day off sounded 100% wonderful.

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Merry Weber

I feel you. Like you, I spend my working day in front of computer screen, constantly checking emails and social platforms. And do the same on my days off. It's like I'm this social media zombie, who doesn't do anything other than that. I take comfort knowing I'm not the most addicted.
Realizing that I'm not getting the rest I need, I started thinking of ways to separate me from the screens (any kind). I now do some work outs – they help a lot with mood improvement, too; take a walk (not necessarily long); play with kids, pets, friends – whichever you have; go on a cultural vacation – even abroad.
I have yet to learn to how to relax the right way, but realizing that you have a problem and willing to do something about it is a halp battle won. Good luck with the rest.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend.
End of Tenancy Cleaning London

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Kelly Rheel Daze

Yes! Can totally relate to this! Being a blogger, it's hard to draw the line. My brother gets annoyed with me because the second we leave our kickboxing class, I'm on my phone, checking emails, tweets, what have you. I hope you were able to relax properly in Mexico. I did about six hours of work during an entire week long trip to PR and it was awesome. The rest of the time I was truly relaxing by enjoying my friends and family as well as the beach and waaaaay too many frozen drinks. I'm going to try to make relaxing at home a priority now as well and make it out to some shows and dinners and fun stuff that do not require wifi.

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