Actively Relaxing

As I write this it’s Sunday morning.  We woke to a freezing cold wind roaring through the trees. My fiancé had to work so we were up early.  By 6am I was already pondering how I was going to fill in the day.  There was nothing that ‘needed’ to be done, so the next ten hours were all mine.  

The boy suggested I go back to bed, but I find once I’m up my mind won’t let me return to sleep. While it was still dark I posted a photo on Instagram and asked this very question.  What should I do on this cold and miserable day?  The responses all sounded lovely.  Relax.  Read a book. Watch a movie.  But I know myself well enough to realise that I was never going to spend the day lying on the couch reading.

I am definitely an active relaxer.  I first heard this term described in John Kirwan’s autobiography.  John Kirwan is a legendary All Black who went on to coach rugby union at an international level. He also suffered from crippling depression.  Even at the height of his career.  

An active relaxer is what it sounds like.  You relax best when doing something.  You may argue that reading or watching a movie is doing something. And I agree with you. But these activities do nothing but make me fidget. Not all the time. I can watch a movie in the evening, or read before bed. But for some reason I can't do them during the day and truly relax.  

I've tried. Over and over. But I can't keep still. I'm up every five minutes to do something. Or I can't concentrate, as my mind wanders away to other things.  

I relax best when I am pottering about.  In fact my fiancé has started calling me Harry. Because he knows the answer to ‘what are you going to do today?’ is always, ‘potter’.  

I’m most happiest when I’m walking the dogs, listening to a podcast while cooking, gardening and writing.  To feel most relaxed I have to actually be doing something with my body.  So I could quite happily sit on the couch this afternoon to watch a movie if I could knit at the same time.  But since I have no idea how to knit … 

I’m not quite sure what it’s all about.  Some of it may have to do with my Type-A personality.  I function best when I’m busy.  By busy I don’t mean overwhelmed.  Overwhelm causes me to feel stressed and anxious.  But I like having things to do to fill my day. 

I used to wonder if it was a way to deal with anxiety?  What made me think this?  I once read an article on High Functioning Anxiety.  Apparently those with this problem tend to keep busy as a way to deal, and cover up, their anxious nature.  But I’m not sure.  I wouldn’t say I suffer from anxiety, although it does tend to rear it’s head when I’m in a situation that I can’t control.  Like when my fiancé is letting my dogs run rampant through the forest chasing wallabies, and I can’t see or hear them!  Although I’m sure that would stress any normal person out!  So I'm not sure it's that either.  

I just think I'm someone whose mind relaxes best when their body is busy.  Some people swear by sitting still to meditate.  I swear by moving to meditate.  Get me outside for a walk with my dogs and I am the calmest person I know.  

At the end of the day, whatever the reason, I’ve come to accept that this is who I am.  So instead of working against it I go with it.  I’m not going to spend hours journaling to uncover the reason why.  I don’t care about the reason.  As long as I’m happy with being who I am, then why go dredging up reasons that might negatively go against that.  That might get me overthinking about things that don’t need thinking about.  And what is the point in that.

And I’m having a lovely day.  I rugged up warm this morning and the dogs and I walked for two hours.  It was cold, but they loved it and so did I.  I came home, pottered about and am now writing this post.  Once the chicken in the oven has cooked we are going out for another walk. The sun is beginning to poke through the clouds and the wind is settling down.  And it will be time for us all to stretch our legs again.  The rest of the afternoon will be spent preparing a roast for dinner. Then I will be feeding the fur-kids, getting ready for work tomorrow and catching up with the boy over a port or two.  Because it’s definitely port weather.  

So no books may have been read.  But this is the most relaxing day I have had in a while.  And maybe one day, when I learn to knit, a movie will be watched on a Sunday afternoon.


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