Calgon, Ta-ake me away!

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Aaahhh, the importance of relaxation.  Something I never understood until I was diagnosed with RA.

To give you some background, you should probably know that I can’t watch a movie on my couch without checking my phone, playing on the computer, folding laundry, PACING, etc.

Seriously, I’ve never been able to sit still.

Something which has served me well professionally but something which has been a problem when trying to rest and take care of myself with a chronic illness.

I’ve had to really schedule and plan ahead for relaxation time. Because if I don’t do that, I won’t.  And while that’s fine with my Type A personality, it eventually catches up with my RA body and will result in a complete physical and emotional breakdown!

Flashback to last year when  I was flaring so bad: I planned myself so tightly that I was having to internally coach myself to do things.

Ok, you’re going to work all day.  Then you have a networking event. I know you’re tired but after that, you have to jump on the laptop and catch up on emails. Then you have to plan a sales blitz. Then you have to email the region about it. Then you have to be prepared for your cellphone to ring with questions from coworkers on said sales blitz.  Then you have to call your mom to check in.  Then you have to do some laundry, clean, and lay out clothes for the nextday.

Then you crash.  HARD.

I have to really take a step back to realize that I don’t HAVE to do all these things.  I don’t.  And while I should realize that life is too short to absolutely kill yourself to keep up with all of these extra events, I have a really hard time doing that.

So how and what do you do to slow down, take care of yourself, and plan time to do nothing when you’re hard-wired not to?

You force yourself, that’s how!

I try to pre-plan at least two things a week where I only relax.  A walk in the park, a bubble bath, massage, or simply enjoying time with a friend.  The only rule? I have to do these things with 100% focus. IE no cell phone, no laptop, no pacing.  I hate that I have to force myself to do these things…but if I don’t, I pay for it.

I had the best weekend last weekend!  I took a walk in the park. I got a massage.  I went and danced my booty off at a concert.  I haven’t enjoyed a concert like that in a long time.  Seriously…all I did was dance.  For a whole two hours.  No cell phone, no nothing.  I just enjoyed myself and had a blast with my friend.  I really needed that.

What do y’all do to relax? Am I the only one who has to force myself to take “time” off?

6 responses »

  1. Relaxing is something we have to learn to do. My favorite is to curl up with a good book – even better if I take the book into the bathtub and turn on the jacuzzi jets.
    Hope you’re feeling better!

  2. You are definitely not the only one! Lately I’ve actually taken to programming “nap” into my iPhone alarm, which is slightly embarrassing but also necessary. Inevitably, though, the alarm goes off, I get the text message telling me to “nap!” and I just put it away and go back to whatever I was doing.

    Now that I think about it, though, a massage is a lot harder to wriggle out of – after all, you have to book it! I’m going to try that, since napping obviously is not working.

  3. Hmm a super chill out for me is being on my own and pottering about the house doing nothing and watching crap movies in bed! A less lazy chill out involves going for a bike ride or swim or a nice walk and then buying some nice food and cooking a tasty meal for myself (as a reward for the exercise!). Or just wandering about town on my own and going to a few galleries or something.

    I don’t know, just generally time on my own. I am very social and my job involves working with people constantly so I quite like being on my own sometimes and getting some peace!!

    Glad you enjoyed your weekend, sounds like great fun :)

  4. Type A and RA don’t go well together. Believe me I know. Like you, I have forced myself to schedule relaxation time because I cannot afford to crash. Good for you for making time for you!

  5. Great to find your blog!
    As a now 16 year veteran warrior of RA I have learned to relax and I now do it easily! I’m 50, so shutting down the email/phone ect. is easy… I remember a life before all of it!
    I still work full-time so I really look forward to my week-ends and evenings. With no kids and a very understanding, loving man, nothing gets in my way. I make no apologies to family or friends for “me time” anymore… Period!
    Anything that can take my mind out of my body for awhile works. I may veg out on the couch with a movie or something I’ve recorded but more often I’m outside. Nature really relaxes me. I can watch my bird bath for hours! Nature reminds me not to complain. They don’t. Critters and birds just do what they do and work with/around obstacles. I try to channel that into my mind.
    I also love to cook/bake. The smell of something good in the kitchen centers me… lifts me. I then feed the neighbors quick before I gain any (more) unwanted weight! haha
    Plus avoiding all the packaged preservative crap frees up your body. Real food made with love is a hug from the inside :)
    I also love jigsaw puzzles and I use the the “small movement” hand work putting them together as physical therapy for my hands. The best part about puzzles is anyone can join in!
    Mix a beer or 3 with any of these activities and I’m REALLY relaxed! That I’m NEVER giving up! hahaha

  6. A slow walk with nature is probably my favorite way to relax. And when that isn’t possible, a good book read, chatting on the internet or writing my photo books always winds me down. For some reason our cultural loves to keep things reeved up to full throttle. Not sure why but it sure can be taxing on the body and mind.

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