Relax

July 6, 2017

Stop for a second. When was the last time you truly relaxed? 

We’ve gotten so good at being distracted, at replying to emails while eating lunch or posting photos of something we love before we’ve finished looking at it, that we’ve forgotten how relaxing it can be to simply be. 

That’s why this summer, I encourage you to relax. Think about your favorite meal or activity and plan a time to make it happen. Do the things that recharge and recenter you. It doesn’t have to be a week in Cancun, it can be thirty minutes on your patio or walking around the neighborhood. 

Relaxation is an essential part of the human experience. It’s as important as eating or sleeping or drinking water. It helps you be the best you for the people in your life who really need you. Friends, spouses, and children all expect you to be the person they know and love, but sometimes we’re so caught up in filling others’ cups that we forget to look at our own, much less refill it. 

And so, the ability to be slow, be still, and remember why you’re doing everything you’re doing is important. Relaxing is hard work, and not enough people encourage us to do it. To drop the phone, to pick up a paintbrush, or a book that you’ve been meaning to get to. To abandon the myth that being busy is the most valiant state of being. 

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So often, we sit in the backyard and see the project we’ll do next year or the lawn we meant to mow last week. This time, sit there and look for a butterfly or listen for a bird. Find a moment where you remember how good it feels to scratch your dog’s head until he falls over in bliss and surrenders his belly to you. 

All of my favorite people speak about the importance of loving yourself and others enough, and I have felt the benefits of it (and the scary consequences when I don’t) firsthand. Relaxing is not to be put off until the next time you take a vacation day or your retirement. It’s just as important now as it will be then. Maybe even more so. 

When you’re content, you can be a better listener. A better parent or child, sibling or friend, mentor or coworker. When you use your time wisely, volunteering some of it becomes both more valuable and easier. When you know what you need to relax, make time for it. Not out of selfishness, but out of selflessness. Self-care doesn’t need a stigma, it needs to be celebrated. 

The only way we can be our best is when we treat ourselves well and make time for the things that matter. Consider relaxing an art that helps you learn how to be flexible, to spend time wisely, to handle the unexpected whenever it comes. Stress hurts a lot more when it hits you and you’re already unsettled. 

Sitting down and reading this means you’re off to a great start. Now, exit your browser, close your laptop or put your phone away for a few minutes, and do something good.

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.