It's Ok To Relax And Here's How To Do It

Push harder. Do More. Work Smarter. Be Awesome.

These are the phrases we tell ourselves to keep moving forward, to keep finding more success, or at least find what brings up the most satisfaction in our passions.

And these are the things you should be doing. Most of the time.

If you continually push yourself to the extreme, never giving yourself time to breathe, guess what? You'll crash and all of the balls you were juggling will come crashing down.

Sometimes you just need time to recuperate.

Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

Don't worry about losing your momentum. If you're truly passionate about your work, it will be a fight to keep yourself away, and when you finally feel refreshed, not only will you pick it up where you left off, you'll find yourself even more focused.

If you didn't get a chance to relax during the holidays, make it a plan to dedicate a few days over the next 3 months to do that.

But what does relaxing look like? It may sound silly, but you may have been working so hard for so long that you don't even remember how to relax. I know people who think relaxing is only writing two blog posts, only running a half a dozen errands, and only sending out 3 or 4 work emails.

That's not relaxing. It's not even close. That might be a light day, but relaxing involves a lot less work and a lot more living. Below are a list of the do's and don'ts of relaxing.

Do make relaxation a priority.

Relaxing should be as much a priority as eating, sleeping, and any other bodily functions you do on a regular basis. There's no way you can operate at your best while hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. The same goes for relaxing. This doesn't even include the effect the stress is taking on your body.

Don't schedule anything that requires you to be there on time.

Running from place to place, while trying to keep to a strict schedule is Exhausting. If you need to get a few things done, make sure they are errands and activities that don't require you to do more than show up whenever you get there. So avoid meeting friends at a specific time and place, scheduling multiple medical appointments for the day, or even trying to go to multiple entertainment venues with start times, like a movie. If you absolutely need to go somewhere with a scheduled time, make it the only thing you have need to do that day.

Do continue to take care of yourself.

Even though relaxing should mean taking it easy, that doesn't necessarily mean to let everything go. Eating well and exercising can and should remain a part of your life. Take it easy, and maybe drop the morning run from 5 miles down to 1 or 2, but don't give up on it entirely. It can be challenging to get back into the swing of things if absolutely everything is turned off.

Don't set your alarm.

If you've been running yourself ragged, chances are that you haven't slept as much as you need. So when you go to bed the night before, do not set your alarm. Depending on how sleep deprived you are, it might take a day or two to actually reset your natural circadian rhythm.

Do participate in your favorite hobbies until you no longer want to.

Whether it's playing sports, watching TV, beating a video game, or building new cabinets, it doesn't matter what your hobby is, just do it. There are times when hobbies can kill your passions...this isn't one of them. Having fun is an essential part of relaxing, so don't skimp on that. Whenever you start to feel like you're wasting your time push that thought out of your mind with the next tip.

Don't feel guilty. 

Rest (true rest) is an essential part of everyone's life. We may hear stories of the big innovators of our time who never sleep and are always on. It's a bunch of lies. While they may work harder than many others, they definitely sleep and take time to themselves. Don't feel guilty for taking a few days of the year to yourself. It's ~1% of the year, with incredible returns in productivity for the remaining 99%.

It can be incredibly challenging to find time to get disengage from life's responsibilities. It can be even more challenging to force yourself to use that time for something other than productivity. But relaxation is just another form of productivity that we all need to take on.

- Ryan