Learning to Relax, and New Habits

So, it’s nearly time to head back to work after a long span of time off. Delicious. And I also feel very lucky to have a job that I like – and that affords me a living wage as well as the feeling that I am doing something worthwhile. But unscheduled time still has to be about the best thing going.

One of the things that I learned about myself — perhaps most especially when I was entirely alone up at ‘the lake’ — was how difficult it is for me to relax. When you’re busy you don’t notice it – but alone, with absolutely no demands on my time, I found myself often thinking that I “should” be doing something else or more of whatever I was doing.

2015-11-17 16.22.12The sunset is a great example. So many gorgeous sunsets and sunrises … and I was almost uncomfortable in their presence. How could I appreciate them enough? I’d take a photo … then go back outside five minutes later to take another. But what was I trying to do or get? Could I not just sit still and let the beauty wash over me and appreciate it and let it be?

Apparently not. There was something more that I should be doing or thinking or feeling.

To my way of thinking, “should” is not a word that’s a happy accompaniment for any sort of a vacation — or any moment of my time, for that matter. But there it was, quietly insistent. And I can’t blame anyone or anything else … it was coming from inside of me!

So, I’m gonna be keeping an eye on that in the days ahead. Just observing how often I start to relax, only to be jolted to attention by that impulse, that “should.” It’s a habit of longstanding and I’m glad to have noticed it so I can set about changing it.

And since it’s a habit, I started thinking about what I could replace it with. Meditation came to mind. Simple and of the moment – the idea is to relax and do nothing. To just focus on my breathing is a perfect answer to my “should.” So I am making a concerted effort to meditate more.

Writing is another ting that I did a bit of on my vacation and would like to continue … another habit to get back into. And then of course there’s exercise. The older I get, the more I notice how much ground I lose when I take a few days off and stop exercising. So maintaining and building capacity is high on my list. The FitBit has helped on that front, and there’s lots more to do.

So, guess what? Being the geek that I am, I was very pleased to find an app that is aimed at helping you develop new habits … reinforcing them by giving you a place to set goals and track what you’re doing.

It’s called HabitBull and it’s looking like a fun way to give myself a boost toward getting healthier, digging a little deeper, and letting myself be still in the moment.

I’ll keep you posted … blogging, after all, is one of the things I’ll be tracking.

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6 Responses to Learning to Relax, and New Habits

  1. Alice Nye says:

    I like this–thoughtful and insightful.

    Here’s a poem that takes shoulds and oughts to task also. Maybe you know it:

    The Moment
    Marie Howe

    Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment

    when, nothing


    no what-have-I-to-do-today-list

    maybe half a moment

    the rush of traffic stops.

    The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be

    slows to silence,

    the white cotton curtains hanging still.


  2. Doris says:

    Thank you Jordy, insightful as always and food for thought for the rest of us. Your self observation on the need to relax and rid your self of the habit of constantly feeling you should be “doing” something resonates very closely with me. l do hope you find an enjoyable way to balance work and chores without that endless sense of neglect or wasted time.


    • Hey, morning, Doris. I’m taking small steps … just sitting still for 5-minutes and breathing – letting the thoughts come and go. It’s amazing how challenging that is – and rewarding, with practice. Small steps seems to be the key … 😉


  3. Karen says:

    Good stuff, Jordy!


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