It is Saturday of the Easter long weekend. I have been out every day in the week. It has been busy and momentous, with some new things tried, a choir concert and the birth of my sister’s second child. It was been hottish all week and my tummy has felt unsettled for over a week.
Today is the first day in a while that I have nothing I have to do, not even a quick trip to the supermarket. It is the first day in a while that has been cooller, but it’s still pleasant and not rainy. I am trying to decide between staying at home and having a sleepy day or going for a drive somewhere with Dad (with probably a walk and a hot chocolate or milkshake at our destination). As my eyes droop over my samurai sudoku puzzle, I decide on the sleepy day option.
I then proceed to spend the next four hours on the computer chatting with a friend in America as we play Draw Something against each other on our smartphones. It is fun and a rare treat. However, the afternoon slips by unnoticed and soon my eyes are sore and my head is migrainey.
This week, my biggest focus was to get more rest so that I could feel calmer and more refreshed. Specifically, rest meant sleep, or at least a lie down in the dark with my eyes closed. The story I opened with is a perfect example of how I choose things that seem as if they would be restful and relaxing but actually do not have quite the calming and rejuvenating effect I thought they did. Time passed unnoticed and suddenly I felt weary. I did not allow my mind to pause and refresh.
After five days, I am not yet bouncing around like an exuberant Tigger, but I do think I have discovered the key to another lock on the secret of my best life. My idea of how a day should be constructed has been tipped on its head.
Sometimes, I think we get caught up in conventions without even realising that things could be any other way.
For me, the days have always been about doing things, the evenings about relaxing and the nights about sleeping. Clearly, though, that hasn’t been working for me! The nights do not involve enough sleeping, I’ve had too little energy to do my daytime things and I’ve been feeling unfathomably stressed despite my sedate evenings.
Napping during the day really did begin to have an effect on both how rested I felt and how relaxed I felt. Not perfectly rested, because I still don’t sleep well enough at night, but just rested enough to cope better than I have been recently. Not perfectly relaxed, but just relaxed enough for my heart to stop residing permenantly and reverberatingly in my throat.
The balance with napping during the day was that I would also go out and do things. That way, I would still be living life and trying things and tiring myself out positively, rather than living a cautious hermit existence. My days naturally filled with things – errands, shopping, visiting my sister and new nephew in hospital. However, my previous evenings suddenly filled with things, too! With visits that extended into the evening, with choir rehearsals and with the new thing I was trying – yoga classes.
I have done some yoga at home from a DVD, but I have never been to a proper class. As with many things in my life, I have allowed all the possible negatives to discourage me from having a go. But my friend discovered a place about halway between our two suburbs where we could try unlimited classes for a fortnight for $25. This week I was going to do things, so I put all of my anxieties about a new class into the “It’s OK For Things To Be Imperfect” compartment of my mind. Although I didn’t get to as many as I’d planned, we went to Yoga for the Mind on Monday evening and I tried out Beginner’s Yoga on Wednesday. I will try a few more classes next week, but I plan to sign up for the rest of the Beginner’s course. I loved the mixture of stretching and meditativeness.
I was struck by the thought that yoga class was an hour or so where I couldn’t do anything except focus on relaxing myself. It often feels like an effort to go out and take classes, but there were many times during the classes when it occurred to me that I could completely relax because I had nothing else to do, nothing else I could do, for that time.
It made me start to ponder the benefits of scheduling relaxation time as something immovable. I am lucky because I do get time to relax, but it is usually ad hoc, wherever I can fit it in, after I have completed certain tasks, with the anticipation of tasks and committments pending. Perhaps this is just too difficult a thing to do properly at home, at least for me at the moment. Perhaps – and this is a revolutionary idea for a long-confirmed introvert – but, perhaps I need to go <I>out</i> to help myself relax. Possibly just going to a park and lying on a rug in the sun. Perhaps other relaxing classes, where I know I am trapped for an hour and therefore do not have the pressure of taking up free time.
Normally, I avoid evening committments, but this week I found I had energy for them, even found them refreshing. My tipped-up day meant that I had already had my rest. Perhaps now I will wear my pyjamas to work and eat breakfast for dinner!