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Going Rogue on Relaxation

Updated: May 14

I realised something the other day…

That possibly one of the biggest barriers to relaxation, might not be the absence of opportunity to ‘down tools’, but rather the presence of expectation.

The expectation that relaxation needs to LOOK a certain way, in order to FEEL like the dictionary definition. In other words...

‘Free from tension and relaxed.’

‘Breezy, calm, carefree.’

It’s a state of being that is encapsulated perfectly, by the sprawled-on-a-sun lounger, cocktail-in-hand aesthetic which, as a result (and in my opinion,) probably has an awful lot to answer for when it comes to my often limited capacity for ad-hoc unwinding!

The reason, I can only assume, is that it belies the real, unfiltered face of relaxation.

A face which is defined by perfunctory pauses, many of which don't look stereotypically 'zen', but which have aggregate gains for overall calmness, stress resilience... and wellbeing.

As today’s ‘ten minutes of bliss!’ served to prove, relaxation can be cultivated in some of the noisiest, unconventional corners of the day…given the basic ingredients of sunshine, some token greenery (however minimal!) and a good book.

With these basic elements, even a make-shift bench, waiting outside my daughter’s gymnastics class, with a soundtrack of pop music and road noise, can feel like a tonic for the mind!

It’s something I’m working on...

Unlearning to associate relaxation with peace, quiet and comfort, and instead appreciate 'time out' in all its forms.

It's kind of ironic, really, that this realisation came whilst learning all about the virtues of ‘green micro-breaks’ in the book - Losing Eden.

The theory goes that these short-but-sweet snippets of time spent in natural environments, can help to inoculate us against the stress of urban life, by ‘boosting subcortic arousal and cortical attention control.’

Who knew!?

Reading this, only reinforced the realisation that I was quickly already coming to: that relaxation doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be effective.

It can be brief, impromptu and the opposite of ‘luxe’, in some cases!

As the old saying goes, something is only ever what you make of it, and by deciding to focus on the comfort of the sun on my face, the light breeze, and the blissful absence of interruptions - the hardness of that trolley-shaped ‘sun lounger’ paled into insignificance.

It was one of those ‘if you close your eyes, you could be anywhere!’ moments, and a testament to how the secret to being more relaxed might not necessarily be booking a holiday, or blocking out one’s diary, but in letting go of the idea that these are the only things that 'relaxation' is fastened to.

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