Relaxing is hard

Relaxing is difficult for me. I suppose it always has been. I’m the sort of person who bounces their knee under the table.

Relaxing is hard to justify, especially when it’s not “an activity.” I can relax on a beach, because that’s why I’m there. But when it’s Sunday night and I could either relax or do any number of activities, I feel lazy if I choose to relax.

Maybe I just need to learn that it’s not a bad thing to take a break every once in a while.

Yesterday I was playing Star Wars with my 3 year old cousin. We would run around in capes made of blankets, and then he would announce “Take a break!” and we would leap onto a couch and catch our breaths for about sixteen seconds before taking off again. That’s sort of how I treat relaxing. A burden you have to do so you don’t break down.

Even when I specifically set aside time to relax, I have a hard time doing so. Growing up, vacations were always spent doing things. Those relaxing beach moments I described earlier were just that—moments, because my family would soon tire of it and decide to go swimming, or something.

Last night, since I truly didn’t have much to do and had such a busy week last week, I decided to let myself relax. To “force” myself to relax may be better phrasing. I turned on Netflix and laid down  for about an hour and a half, then I started feeling gross and restless. I should get out of bed…I should do something. I should prepare for tomorrow. I could do laundry. Do I need gas? I haven’t used Rosetta Stone in awhile. I need to shower at some point. Did I water my plants yet? Maybe I should repot my cactus.

And so on.

I want to be able to relax. It would be good for me. But it’s hard. It feels lazy and unproductive. Even a “relaxing” activity like knitting or video games feels difficult after awhile.

What do you do to relax? Do you feel guilty/lazy/restless when you try to?


10 thoughts on “Relaxing is hard

  1. […] takes effort (or a healthy ten minutes of scheduling it in) to take the time to relax and be lazy. Here‘s a cool post on this […]


  2. I’m the exact same way. Growing up I used to look at my mom who was constantly on the go and say, there’s no way I’m going to do that when I’m older. Turns out I was wrong on that count, I seem to go out of my way to find new projects to fill my time. I’m being more conscious about it now though, hopefully soon I won’t feel weird just sitting still for more than two minutes!

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  3. I have hobbies that feel relaxing to me but allow me to also be productive. I crochet in the winter while I watch tv. I paint by number in the summer while I tv.

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  4. I wish relaxing and enjoying leasure were more a part of our cultural conditioning.

    I originally read this article in Harpers in 2004. It is called “Quitting the Paint Factory:On the Virtues of Idleness”. You may find it helpful

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  5. Relaxing for me is more of mental than physical state. I relax while listening to my music. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing as long as my mind is at peace.

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  6. I’m pretty much the same way–relaxing for me is really just another opportunity to plan what I’ll do next. If I’m not multi-tasking, it feels weird. It feels almost like wasted time, even though I know it shouldn’t… probably. The only time I’m able to shut my brain totally off is while watching a good Korean Drama, or reading. Even then, I try to fit those into the useless cracks of my life–the five minutes you HAVE to sit and wait for the doctor, the half an hour before dinner spent checking pots and ovens to make sure nothing burns. Still, I do try and make time for both: while my body doesn’t like to admit relaxing is good, my brain knows it and tells me to slow down and enjoy myself. If I can.

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  7. It’s hard for me to relax, too. I feel like I should be doing something. The weird thing, though, is that when there is something to do, I don’t want to do anything. I want to hole myself up in my bedroom and watch Netflix or YouTube. It’s weird. However, my wife encourages me to play games whenever there is opportunity. Granted, it’s far and few between, but the time is worth it.

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  8. I completely agree with you! Whenever I stop doing something, I find myself wanting to make more things to do. A friend of mine once asked me how I find time to do so many things, and I said to her that I’d feel useless if I didn’t.

    Even if I’m watching a TV show I’ll do something else at the same time, unless it’s Arrested Development because I 1. Love the show so much & 2. always make notes when I watch it as I’m making an Animal Crossing town with a friend that’s based off the show 🙂

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