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Relaxation for people who can’t relax

“I just can’t seem to relax” is something that many people with busy lives say.  If you read last month’s blog on “Managing your Mind Chatter” you will have a sense of why that is the case.  For many of us the voice in our head is very demanding and focused on “doing” and quite critical of us when we take a break from that doing.

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What does “relaxing” look like to you?  Bring a mental image of how you would look if you were relaxing.  Create a really clear picture of what is going on around you, where you are, what you can hear, smell, taste or touch and how you feel.  Close your eyes and make the sensations as clear as possible.  Really feel what it would feel like to be that relaxed.


Now, ask yourself the question….”what is preventing me from creating that in reality?” Listen to your answers to that question.


How do you feel now?  Where do you feel what you feel?  What thoughts go with those feeling?


Now go back to that image of you relaxing and reconnect with the feelings of being relaxed.  Notice the difference between how you feel now and how you felt when you thought about all of the reasons why you (think you) can’t relax.


What if it is just the word “relax” that is the problem?  What if the concept of “relaxing” conjures up an image of doing nothing which actually makes you feel a bit stressed.  It brings up thoughts of being idle, of being lazy, of not achieving.


You see, for many of us, we have become so conditioned to “doing” that the thought of not doing (i.e. relaxing) activates our stress response and makes it feel difficult or even distressing to do nothing and just relax.


So, here is my tip….don’t call it relaxing.  When we label something we attach all kinds of emotions and thoughts to it and that can get in the way of us truly engaging with it.  It’s like labelling work as “hard” and that brings up all sorts of feelings and emotions!


What is relaxing anyway?  Is relaxing only possible when we are doing nothing?  Perhaps there are other ways to relax.  I wonder whether the experience is actually more about you releasing.  Releasing your focus and attention on doing and releasing your grip on achievement.


By releasing our mental energy we in turn release our physical energy and that has a relaxing effect on the body.   Releasing our mental energy might be about meditating or sitting quietly or it might be taking a walk or listening to music.  The key thing is that we are engaging in the experience not our thinking about the experience.


If you are “trying” to relax or relaxing with a “purpose” or an expectation of how you want to feel then that might be why you find it difficult.  If you turn your attention to releasing your grip on achieving a desired state you might just find that alone makes you feel relaxed.


If you still need more, take a look at my video blog.


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