Yes, You Need to Plan How to Relax. Here’s Why.

Yes, You Need to Plan How to Relax. Here’s Why.

Last weekend, we travelled to Northwest Arkansas to see my little brother. (You can see more of my adventures on Instagram.) We hiked some, ate a ton, and watched our beloved Sooners squeak out a win. I also got enough biscuits and gravy to hold me over until my next trip to the South. But we also talked a bunch, including an in-depth conversation about my live on the weekend challenge.


A few months ago, I convinced my brother to take on the challenge as well. He agreed over Sunday brunch, so I’m not sure if it was the mimosas or my enthusiasm that got him to agree, but regardless, he did. As we talked about his experience last weekend, he acknowledged not making enough time for rest. He shared about fun adventures, but he acknowledged often feeling exhausted and drained come Monday morning. Naturally, the concept of rest and relaxation came up, and I highlighted his need to do more of both.


So when I asked him how he relaxes, he quickly named Netflix and video games. He also mentioned reading. And then paused, unsure of how else he can relax. In this moment, I realized just how common this is in our culture.


Most of us don’t really know how to relax.


So often, relaxing is synonymous with lying on the couch, eyes glued to a screen. We confuse relaxing with vegging, and while this can sometimes be true, I don’t think it’s the full story. For this reason, I strongly believe that we need to plan how to relax.


Earlier this week, I posted about the importance of practicing how you want to feel. Don’t passively wait to feel something, take action. Practice it. This is true particularly for rest and relaxation.


While TV is often the most obvious activity for rest, it’s not the only one. But our brains often default to what’s easiest and most obvious. So we’ve got to get intentional, reminding our brains that there are other options for how to relax.


Start by making a list of all the different ways you can relax. The goal here is to come up with as many options as possible. Remember the basic rule of brainstorming: nothing gets evaluated, just write it down. I’ve included a sample list below.


How to relax:

Sit by a fire

Read a book

Go for a walk

Work on a puzzle

Watch a movie

Doodle, sketch, or draw

Mindfully drink a cup of coffee or tea

Call a friend

Listen to an audiobook

Enjoy a glass of wine on your porch, deck, or balcony

Play with your pet

Light a candle

Try a meditation

Look through a picture book

Put on a record

Watch a documentary about a new subject

Listen to a podcast

Snuggle with someone you love

Play cards

Browse the magazines at your local library



Look at that! Suddenly, I went from a list of my three most obvious choices, watching TV, reading, and scrolling through Instagram, to a list of nearly twenty ways to relax. We just have to get a little creative!


Planning is essential to living a healthy life. I cannot stress that enough. You don’t have to be rigid or overscheduled, but you do have to be intentional.


Get creative with how to relax. Change it up. Get outside of the obvious electronic options. I promise, your rest and relaxation will feel different!


What new or less obvious ways can you relax this weekend? Leave me a comment; I’d love to hear!


PS: Also check out this post: What We Get Wrong About Recharging.


    1. Dr. Allison

      So glad you enjoyed this, Donna! I think we’re ALL guilty of confusing the two! I love that you’re willing to try something different. Keep me posted on what you find and notice!

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