Water, waves, and sunshine – relaxing, right? Right??

4 01 2016

I work 6 days a week, 51 weeks a year.  I work online, from home.  I try very hard to not turn on the computer, or even go into my office, on Sundays.  From Christmas to New Year’s I observe a “computer blackout”.  This year, during my break, I found myself increasingly frustrated.  I’ve been immersed in a beautiful, relaxing, location with good food and sunshine… but my brain keeps spinning “must work, must work” on repeat loop.  Before I powered down for break, I made sure I was up to date and that nothing time-sensitive lingered in my inbox.  There is no legitimate reason for my brain to keep up the “must work” mantra… especially not on the ONE week I took off from the computer in the entire year of 2015.  Nothing needed attention, but my brain could not let it go.  Is it habit? Maybe.  Screen addiction? Could be.  Whatever it is, it’s primarily just frustrating.

Back at work today, I’m trying to figure out this mindset.  Although my work is challenging and enjoyable, I don’t want to give it free reign to dominate my thoughts.  But, what to do about it?

Some would say that accessing email on my phone is a bad idea – that it makes it worse.  Others would say that I shouldn’t encourage students to send me text messages.  But, I disagree.  I am less stressed now that I know I have access to email and texts – that I’m not missing anything – that someone isn’t waiting for me to get back to them.  Checking my phone and seeing zero notifications relieves the stress – allows me to not worry that someone is waiting for my input.  I’m more relaxed than I was before I had that level of access.  So, why won’t my brain stop the “must work” loop?

Others would suggest exercise.  I already do that – I walk for at least an hour a day.  I nearly always walk in nature. When possible, I walk near water, listen to the waves, and watch the wildlife.  That should do the trick, right?  Nope.  Still the “must work” loop.  If I try to stop and sit for a while, I get anxious, hearing “what next, what next?” over and over.  I find myself going over my to-do list in my head… even though there is nothing crucial on it for today.  I find myself planning to do tasks early, just to have something to mark off the list.  Even though my rational mind is saying “slow down and smell the sea breeze!!!”.

A couple of years ago I started mindful meditation. It worked – it helped my focus (not to mention lowered my blood pressure significantly).  Is the mental loop because I got out of that habit over this past year?  That could be.  I should try it again, I suppose.

I find myself searching Amazon for books on relaxation while sitting near the water.  The irony does not escape me.

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And, I finally realize… the slogan I’ve lived by for so many years…  “Just Do It”… can also apply to relaxing.  It’s okay to tell my brain “you’re caught up, take a rest”.  It’s healthy.  In letting my brain relax, I can be more mentally present when I’m physically present.  It’s not slacking to rest – it’s balance.

Balance.  That’s the key.  Now, to convince my brain of that…

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