Emotional Fitness

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The Importance of Allowing Yourself to Relax

For the love of a lazy Sunday

It’s after 10:00 a.m. and the kids are still sleeping, along with my other half, who, truth be told, would sleep until the next millennium if she could. But it’s all good. It’s Sunday. This is a traditional day of rest, and even those with Type A personalities need to chill at least one day a week.

Every culture on the planet has at least one day of rest and recuperation. Many use that time to recharge spiritually by going to religious services, while others sleep in, watch TV, and just give themselves the gift of a lazy day. And yes, there are those who feel that working up a sweat in the backyard is just what the doctor ordered, and upon occasion I have recommended that exact activity.

We need to give ourselves a break, and a little downtime works well for almost everybody. It doesn’t really matter what the activity or inactivity is. The idea is to give your body, mind, and heart a chance to relax and recharge. If you keep going at full speed every day, it can be really hard on you, both physically and mentally. We were not designed to go 24/7/365 (even though that’s become a popular modern-day mantra).

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Some people find it hard to take a real vacation, let alone a day off (I wouldn’t know a thing about that, as I am writing this on a Sunday morning). If you are one of us, know that even though planned relaxation may seem a little counterintuitive, you have to learn how to do it on your own, or it could be forced upon you. I have seen many people work themselves into an early grave because they were too driven, and some too scared, to give themselves a break.

All right, so you’re not a kicked-back person and you’d rather do an Ironman race than stop and smell the roses (or plant some). That’s fine. As long as you are doing something that relaxes you. Active breaks from your routine will give you the same energy you need to continue taking on the world.

It doesn’t matter what form your idle time takes, as long as it’s not destructive. You owe yourself the gift of a deep breath and a view of the long sunset. And if you tell yourself that you’re being unproductive, remember that you can’t function well if you’ve exhausted all your resources by never stopping to take a rest. Again, it doesn’t matter when you do it. This is not about tradition. Pick whatever day and time works best for you, and make it a plan. By committing to take some time for yourself and for those you love, you are giving yourself and your family a gift.

Think about this and talk it over with your clan. The idea here is that by giving ourselves a break and just enjoying a day off, we can make our lives better and actually create greater good in our world than if we constantly are trying to get things done.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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