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The Ultimate Challenge?

The Ultimate Challenge?

Can you spend five minutes doing absolutely nothing?  Have you lost the ability to relax, even if you try?

There are a couple of theories on this phenomenon – 1) we truly are overloaded or 2) we purposefully live life on fast forward.


We are just plain overloaded in our dual income, single parent and/or sandwich family structures.  Women are particularly affected with our mastery of multi-tasking; we can always think of something else that needs to be done.

The other day I had the rare occasion of being completely alone at home.  I saw it as the perfect opportunity to be a couch lump, but instead I was cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, and throwing in a load of laundry.  As soon as I would sit down for a moment, I would remember something else I had to do, and back up I’d go.

Life on fast forward?

We measure our success by the intensity of our activities, not by how much leisure time we have.

I’ll never forget a story a speaker told of getting a relaxation CD from a friend.  She felt to be sincere in her thank you letter she really should listen to it once.  She got in her lazy boy chair, leaned back, and turned it on.  After two minutes of music and seagulls, she found herself reaching over to push the fast forward button!  That story says it all.   It is not easy for most of us to give ourselves time and more importantly permission to relax.

Will we ever retire? 

I used to fantasize about retirement and the empty nest.  My vision was a sofa with lots of pillows and a big stack of books to read all day long.  Well, I recently took early retirement from my corporate job and what did I do?  Start a small business.  Not exactly relaxing, that’s for sure.  One of my friends calls that “failing retirement.”

Relaxation tips

Some may say how can relaxing be that hard?  Well I’m convinced the hard part is to reprogram your mind to accept the fact that relaxing is a good thing.  Relaxation refreshes your mind making your more productive and creative.  Relaxation gives you control of your life.  Relaxation puts joy in your day.

To be honest, I’m still working on the reprogramming.  Here are some methods I have found to work.

  • Be bold.  Take one whole day to relax and have fun with family and friends.  Plan it and then do it!  Sunday is a good day; after all it is the official day of rest.
  • Each day do some small thing just for the joy it brings you.  Call a friend to chat, go out for ice cream with one of your children, go for a walk with your husband, or volunteer at you child’s school for an hour.
  • Spend fifteen minutes at the beginning or end of the day to sit in a chair and breathe deeply and let your mind wander in silence.

Take the ultimate challenge – relax!


This blog was inspired and informed by Under Pressure: Gender Differences in the Relationship between Free Time and Feeling Rushed, Marybeth J. Mattingly and Liana C. Sayer, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Feb., 2006), pp. 205-221 (17 pages)

If you want help in fitting in time to relax in your life, read my book “Create Your Work/Life Vision: 4 Steps to Take Charge and Live the Life You Envision – Week by Week.”

Amazon reviewerWhat a great guide for over worked, overwhelmed, and over scheduled parents to use to identify priorities and help work toward maximizing the things that are important to you. Her friendly tone is not preachy or holier than thou. Made me feel like I had permission to not do EVERYTHING perfectly but to pick and choose what was important. No worries, not a lengthy book to add to your to-do list. It was a 20 minute read with exercise pages built in to put you on your way. Highly recommended.



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