As it turns out, I am not good at relaxing. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this reality, but it is true. I am the kind of person who has an endless curiosity to try new things, a lot of fulfilling projects, and no shortage of responsibilities. My life has been even more hectic now that I am currently a college student. My mind defaults to the next assignment due or the looming exam. This is a challenging way to live, but it is what I have chosen.
So then, how in the world do I get better at relaxing? Here are the facts:
- I do not like watching a lot of tv.
- I am an introvert.
- My mind is constantly thinking about school and/or creative projects.
In this modern day and age, watching a tv show or movie for hours on end is the mode of relaxation for many people. I get it. It is escapism in its easiest and most accessible form. We are currently in a new golden age of television due to the wealth of quality programming being produced. My problem with this form of media consumption is not only how sedentary it is but ultimately how disempowering it is as well. If the vast majority of your daily life is spent sitting down and watching something in front of a screen, what have you actually done with your life? If you add up all of the hours spent watching other people do something with their lives, what could you have done with yours? Write a book? Spend more time with friends and family? Exercise and take care of yourself? Meditation? Ride a bike out in the world? Learn a new language? Learn to play a new instrument? The possibilities are staggeringly endless.
This is why I cannot fathom watching tv as a form of relaxation. It is inactive consumption that is highly addictive. I watch some shows once in a while, but there is too much to watch for someone who has a lot he wants to do.
Going out with friends is often a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with friends, but it stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from television. I like to be fully present with people and have engaging conversations. After a while, this is over-stimulation that leaves me a bit exhausted. As an introvert, being by myself always feels better overall.
Well then, obviously relaxation for me does not mean watching television and hanging out with friends. So now what? Maybe I need to think about simplifying and scaling down what I do to relax. What are activities that require little thought and effort but make me feel good?
- Playing piano.
- Cuddling with my cat.
- Going for a walk.
- Riding my bicycle.
Honestly, I started to write “drawing”, “photography”, “writing”, and “reading books”. These activities are certainly fun and enjoyable, but they require a degree of focus and intention that is not exactly relaxing. In any case, I need to equate relaxing with simplicity and minimal engagement.
This is a start anyway, but I’ll keep you all updated on my journey of relaxation. I am doing this because I am wary of burnout both as a student and as a creative person. Moments of disengagement, absolute stillness, and rest for the mind have immense value.
As I type this, I am in Sarasota, Florida for some time to visit family and to relax. The beach is calling my name. I need to get on that.