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
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.