Don't Rush Through Life: Give Yourself Permission to Rest and Relax

Life is short, yet we spend an awful lot of it in angst about our past, present and future. We push ourselves to keep working and producing when we just need a little break -- a nap, a beach day, a walk.
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Abraham-Hicks Publications has a great quote: "You cannot have a happy ending to an unhappy journey."

Recently I locked myself in a room and cracked the whip -- "Heather you must write, write, write! You must accomplish a lot today!" The pressure was on, but I was frustrated because the words wouldn't flow. Then I remembered the words of my former career coach, Courtney Parks, "Take the pressure off."

I realized I was tired and exacerbating my situation, but American culture plus my type A personality was creating a tyrant. I was taking a break between jobs after much needed rest - my mother was sick most of the year and passed away in April. I finally had a chance to do whatever I wanted-- take a nap, go to the beach, sleep late, take a drive for no specific reason. Or absolutely anything else that fit into my budget. But instead, I was heading to my "office" daily to write. In some ways it was great, I admired my tenacity and newfound discipline. But I was tired and needed to rest.

The question that arose was something like "Do I have permission to go to the beach on a Wednesday?" The answer was, "Absolutely not! The self lashings will continue until morale improves!" The voice in my head was a tough crowd. I didn't currently have a boss, but I had created one in my mind; a boss that would not allow me to enjoy the break that my body, mind and soul so desperately needed.

I had coffee with a friend and she agreed. Out loud she wondered, "when the school season starts, can I pick up the kids early on a weekday and head to the beach?" Our 'always on' society means we don't feel comfortable when we are not busy, preoccupied or accomplishing something. We are human 'beings', but just 'being' isn't nearly enough. Another friend of mine just completed her Masters, yet instead of enjoying the time off, she frets about getting a new job and wonders what she will do with herself. She is not alone.

I have found some beautiful practices that are supporting me, though. I am engaged in Bikram yoga about three times a week. One of the teachers said, "in Bikram you burn approximately 800 to 1,200 calories, but that is not why we come." She was right. Yes, I admit I am interested in shedding 10 pounds, but the reason this practice is beautiful is that the primary joy I get from it is a deep relaxation, a slowing down in my approach to life, a detoxification of my body. It really affects me in so many profound ways, and prevents me from freaking out or having panic attacks. The fitness portion and calorie burning component just become icing on the cake.

Another practice I am enjoying right now is juicing. Going to the store and finding a great deal on fruits and vegetables, preferably organic when affordable, is a new pastime. I love taking them home and cleaning them, cutting them, and creating a healthy concoction for my body. I like thanking the vegetables for giving me their nutrients, the farmers for tending to them, the grocery store for supplying an affordable and accessible abundance of healthy foods for my enjoyment and health.

It might sound funny, but haven't we all scarfed down a fast food meal without even enjoying the flavor of what we are eating? And there are places in the world where people do not have the luxury of a half dozen grocery stores (Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, Trader Joes, you name it) within a few miles of their home where they can get a wide range of foods at any time of day or night. Don't even get me started on clean drinking water! Even with exercise, how many of us are able bodied and don't make time for the stress release and benefit the natural endorphins supply to help us through life? My friend's husband has sickle cell disease, so even grabbing a pair of running shoes to go for a stress relieving jog is a challenge because it severely affects his health. Many of us stare blankly at our running shoes as if they are some sort of alien contraption, or they've become the chew toy for the dog.

Don't go beating yourself up, though, if you just scarfed down a McDonald's cheeseburger or haven't exercised in months. I'm not about a guilt trip; it leads you further away from what you want. Remember Courtney's words: "Take the pressure off!" Ease up on yourself so that you can do what will fulfill you. Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly illustrates this perfectly with her quote to the effect of: "The twenty-minute walk that I do take is better than the four-mile run that I don't."

Life is short, yet we spend an awful lot of it in angst about our past, present and future. We push ourselves to keep working and producing when we just need a little break -- a nap, a beach day, a walk. Abraham-Hicks says, "All is well, and you will never get it done. Life is supposed to be fun. No one is taking score of any kind, and if you will stop taking score so much, you will feel a whole lot better -- and as you feel a whole lot better, more of the things that you want right now will flow to you. You will never be in a place where all of the things that you are wanting will be satisfied right now, or then you could be complete -- and you never can be. This incomplete place that you stand is the best place that you could be. You are right on track, right on schedule. Everything is unfolding perfectly. All is really well. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun!"

I am learning this lesson firsthand, but it is worth learning. Who knew that writer's block had such a vastly deeper lesson to teach me about being kind to myself (and ironically got the words to flow). So now, the voice inside my head says "take a beach day, whenever you want." Go ahead, give yourself permission to play hooky from real or perceived obligations and sit in the sand, soak up the sun, and get your feet wet. What have you got to lose?

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