Picture this…20+ kids (6 and under) at a birthday party. Diapers, dads, and delusions of everything running smoothly!
Recipe for disaster.
This weekend I was at a 6 yr. old’s birthday party. Most of the parents there had babies and toddlers plus their 6 yr old.
Amidst the party chaos and parental stress running high, I was able to relax. Mostly because my other kid (besides the 6 yr old) is 11. No more babies for me! And luckily I wasn’t the parent hosting the party, because I know that feeling well. The “hostess with the mostest” is actually the person burdened with the most STRESS.
Not too long ago I hosted my 6yr old’s party at the same place- the loud and ruckus Chuck E. Cheese! It was the first large party I’ve had for my kids. I was feeling the stress. So many parents to say hi to. So many decisions, activities, and arrangements happening at once. Kids were everywhere. Did I mention it was mind-numbingly loud?
However, Chuck E. Cheese provides you with a party host that wrangles the kids and keeps the party on track. This really does help a lot. But relax? Not quite!
The host said to the mom of the birthday girl, “Just relax”. There was a look of shock and then she laughed. Most of the moms were chuckling right about now…. Those words…’just relax’. Ha! Yeah right!
“How do you do that?” Said one mom.
“I haven’t relaxed in…let’s see…my oldest is 7. I haven’t relaxed in 7 years.”
“Telling me to relax just stresses me out more.”
“What am I supposed to do with myself?”
Joking aside, the reality stung.
What is relaxation really?
“The state of being free from tension and anxiety.”
Wouldn’t that be nice?!
Some of us, and probably 100% of the moms, can’t just…relax. Beyond being a mother or a parent, there are numerous other people who can’t simply relax. CEO’s, entrepreneurs, anxious individuals, perfectionists, type A, city dwellers, and a myriad other people who don’t know what to do with themselves if they are told to relax.
Some state, ‘It’s just not me’. Or ‘I’ll relax when I’m dead.’
The reason I began meditating was my complete inability to relax started to concern me. I couldn’t go five minutes without moving on to another activity or jotting down another to-do list.
I’d fantasize about moving to the south because I heard they sit on their front porches and watch the sun set.
Or move to London so I could break for tea time.
Maybe much further south of the border so I could take a siesta midday. This all sounded ideal, but I couldn’t bridge that gap from busyness to breaking for anything!
I don’t know when it happened, but I forgot how to relax. I needed 2 hours of TV and a smartphone to sort of wind down.
The sad truth is our society says this is ok. We promote (and admire) industrious, hustling, tireless, ‘always on’, entertained lifestyles. Nothing wrong with hard work if you give your body and brain a chance to rest. You are actually more productive if you get genuine mind/body rest and relaxation.
I noticed that when I rested my body, my brain would kick in with so many thoughts that I’d just go back to busying my body- at least then I’d have less thoughts to pester me.
Each of us has a unique way to relax. It can add years onto your life if you find what’s best for you.
Meditation is a wonderful way to explore other types of truly relaxing that complement your lifestyle.
When you meditate, sooner or later you have that aha! moment when you finally understand what relaxation really feels like so that’s why it’s good to dip your toes into meditation as a solid foundation for relaxation.
And for the million dollar question:
“What do I do with myself?” If you need help relaxing, try these tips.
- Start by scheduling relaxation into your morning, midday, or evening. Start your morning off right with a relaxing ritual or meditate in your car midday to unwind or relax at night before turning on the TV or surfing the Internet. Have a time of day, your mind and body can anticipate relaxing. Something to consider with scheduling is that if you are a mom, scheduling your relaxation is about the only way your kids will respect it- kids pick up on schedules pretty fast.
- Self-Soothing is the ultimate approach to self Care and purposeful relaxation. Self-Soothing is to “comfort oneself when unhappy or distressed“. It’s a skill we learn from childhood to adulthood.
“Many of us self-soothe with junk food, a glass of wine, maybe some mindless TV”. Those can turn into unhealthy habits we’ve learned to pacify ourselves with. Self-soothing as described by PsychCentral.com is finding those things that you really enjoy, but also relax you- from fishing to watching the sunset while petting your dog; to cooking or taking a relaxing drive.
- Practice meditation (mantra or guided meditations). Meditation is a great base to become accustomed to feeling relaxed and eventually get in tune with your individual care and needs.
- Engage your senses in a pleasant way- taste, touch, smell, hear, see. An easy way to do this is to get outside! Soak up the sensations of the outdoors. Redesign a corner of a room in your house and make it a mini retreat.
- A fun tactic I learned in “Coach Yourself To Success” by Talena Miedaner is write down what your ideal day would be like. Let your imagination really run with this. You can glean ideas about yourself, how you like to relax, your needs and pleasures by reviewing what you’ve written.
- Allow yourself to daydream. Daydreaming puts us in the same brainwave state as hypnosis and meditation. Unfortunately, a lot of us were reprimanded for daydreaming when we were younger. Park your car somewhere nice (with a view, even better- close your eyes or fixate your eyes on one particular spot) and practice daydreaming without the nagging voice in the back of your brain for “losing track of time” or “zoning out” or “not paying attention”. Lose yourself for a minute. When you get good at meditation, “losing yourself” happens (and it’s a good thing). If you feel like you lost track of yourself, that is being in “the gap” between thoughts.
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Peace and Be Well,