I don’t know about you but there seems to always be something preventing me from switching off and relaxing. Whether it’s the sudden need to clean the kitchen, do the laundry or just the mental chatter which won’t shut up there is always something preventing me from fully switching off.
As I mentioned in my slowing down for the summer post, I’m coming out of a busy period in my life and needed time to slow down and relax. Whilst it’s important to accept that life sometimes gets busy and we need to go with the flow. It’s also important to embrace the gaps and learn to slow down and relax. However, that is often easier said than done.
I’m incredibly fortunate that my job in further education allows me to take proper time off during the summer. But time off work doesn’t always equal time to relax. Especially when that voice in your head starts listing off all the jobs that need to be done around the house. It’s so easy to give yourself even more work when you are supposed to be relaxing. I’m very guilty of giving myself a huge list of chores to do during my ‘time off’. Instead of switching off and relaxing I’m decluttering my wardrobe, deep cleaning the kitchen or planning a larger project. Whilst some of these tasks might be more enjoyable than work, they are still tasks which require and mental energy.
For me one of the biggest obstacles preventing me from switching off and relaxing is guilt. Part of me is saying I’m so incredibly fortunate to get 6 weeks over the summer so I need to make the most of it. This means being productive and getting things done around the house. Which leads to feelings of guilt when I decide to sit the garden with a book on a sunny afternoon. How can you switch off and relax when you’re feeling guilty about doing nothing?
I don’t really have an answer to how you can overcome the guilt of not being productive. But it’s important to remember that downtime and relaxation are important to your well-being, especially when it comes to preventing overwhelm and burnout. Therefore, in order to remain productive, we also have to allow ourselves time to switch off and relax. Of course, that is easy said than done when that inner voice tells you the dishwasher needs unloading whilst you are sitting down with your book.
I find it helpful to factor time to relax into my day. For example, I’ll tell myself I’ll work on a few tasks in the morning but in the afternoon, I’m going to take some time to myself.
This is a trick to help shut that inner voice up. You know the voice that suddenly worries about the laundry, your to-do list, money or the grocery shopping just when you want to relax. Normally she starts talking right before bed not letting you sleep. The simple solution is to keep a notebook (or your phone’s notes app) and write down those thoughts floating around your head. In theory, this should help keep that voice quiet and allow you to switch off. If I’m planning some me time during the day, I’ll try to keep a notebook nearby just in case my mind is finding it hard to switch off.
If I’m wanting to give myself time to relax, I’ll switch off from social media and give myself a break from my phone. If you have a hard time switching off in the evening try turning your phone off (or at least putting it one silent) at a certain time. Then use your social media (and email) free time to relax and unwind. It can also be helpful to turn off other distractions like Netflix or the TV. But that depends on how you like to relax. If you find it easier to switch off and binge-watch your favourite show then go for it.
It’s not always easy but finding ways to ignore the guilt and hush the mental chatter is worth the effort. We can’t be productive all the time, that isn’t sustainable so finding ways to switch off and relax is so important. How do you switch off and relax? Do you have any tips for helping to shut up that inner voice?