By Kristina Wilder, M.A.
Last week was my birthday, which is normally a nice excuse to relax a little bit or to do something fun. But on this particular birthday my schedule was challenging to navigate and I ended up spending most of the day busy and/or working. As a consequence I didn’t really get the relaxation or opportunity to reflect that I would normally do. However, I will take that opportunity now.
Upon reflection, I find that the fact that I didn’t find my birthday relaxing to be part of a larger problem. My life is pretty busy and full at the moment. Now, my life is busy and my time is occupied with things that I enjoy, but that does not mean that an abundance of activities does not lead to stress. Even good life events can still be stressful. So, as I reflect on my birthday and this last year of my life I am struck with the importance of finding small ways to appreciate the day and to relax even in the midst of a busy life. This is something I am improving at as I get older and it becomes increasingly important to me. However, I’m not perfect, so I am going to use this as the opportunity to remind myself of what I have learned, also in the hopes someone else may benefit as well.
The following are small things during the day that I find enjoyable and relaxing. If I can focus more of my attention on these times and appreciate them more, it will help me to feel more balanced:
- Eating my fruit roll-up: Possibly my favorite food I eat during the day. I love it so much I eat it quickly, but taking the time to enjoy it more would help;
- Reading my book on the commute home: I have often found my commute to be a nice restful way to transition from work to home, but reading is fun as well;
- Nice hot shower: nothing is as relaxing to me as a nice warm shower at the end of the day. It can serve as a time to just rest and be soothed;
- Talking with my family about what everyone has done for the day and listening to any amusing stories that come up.
The above list isn’t comprehensive. There are a lot more things I could add, but these are things I do every day. And I enjoy them. If I can pay equal attention to these enjoyable activities as I do to the other activities in my day, I’ll feel more refreshed and relaxed even in the midst of my busy (but still enjoyable) life. Also, it’s important to be mindful and pay attention to these activities when I am doing them and try to avoid distractions that might prevent me from fully enjoying what I am doing.
We all want to have meaningful and fulfilled lives. Often in our quest to do so, we make ourselves so busy we don’t really notice or appreciate moments of fun or relaxation. Hopefully some of what I have written here can serve as a reminder to both me and you as well.