Have You Forgotten How To Relax?
I was the founder and CEO of what became a large community organisation in a relatively small community just west of Sydney. I was passionate and worked very hard over many years. The community organisation grew and at its peak was helping thousands of people locally and overseas. However, somewhere in the midst of working hard, serving people, and trying to serve my own family, I forgot how to relax. I can remember getting to my day off and either being too tired or too wired to be able to do anything that was replenishing for me or my family. OVer time the effects of this on me was disastrous. I gradually became deeply disatisfied and bored. I lost heart for what I was doing. I lost my way. I sought excitement outside my marriage inappropriately, which led to me resigning in disgrace, and the breakdown of my marriage and family. I spent several very dark years barely surviving before gradually finding my way to a renewed life and purpose.
6 Keys That Have Helped Me Relearn How To Relax
- Exercise has been a powerful stress release – One day, in the midst of my darkness and despair I was invited to a group exercise class outdoors. It was hard work for a flabby body, but it was fun. I went back and signed up for 3 classes per week. After a few months of muscle pain, it felt good to be fit again. I had renewed energy. I also found that my depression lifted and my stress levels were reduced. I was sleeping better. I was doing something good for me. I relearned how to relax. I honestly believe now, that if I had been committed to regular exercise during my busy CEO days I would not have become so emotionally tied up in knots, and could have saved my marriage.
- Learning to be more present in the moment through mindfulness techniques – A counsellor taught me a few mindfulness techniques. One with focusing on my breathing, another with tapping my forehead, face, shoulders and hands. These simple techniques have helped me to make sure I am very present in the current moment. I realised I had developed a pattern of being caught up in my mind, mulling over future or past issues. Being present has helped me to learn how to relax again. It also helped me to engage more meaningfully in relationships and to be curious about the world around me.
- Keeping a Journal – I found that writing myself out each morning or night has helped me to better process my emotions and my thinking. This has helped me to be more self aware. I have been more aware when I am happy or sad, pressured or excited. This has been important to unclutter my mind and to learn how to relax. The journal has also been an important time to reflect on positive messages from the Bible which have helped me rebuild my faith in God and myself.
- Getting to know myself better – I have done some personal development courses and had some personal coaching that has helped me become much more knowledgable about myself. I have let go of some limiting beliefs that were holding me back in a few areas, e.g. earning money guilt free. My Extended DISC Personality Analysis has helped me know that, as an IC, I need a mix of activity in my day/week. My ideal day is a combination of time with people and time alone. This keeps my energy levels high and stops me becoming distracted or depleted. In the past I have often worked against myself to my own hurt. Now I make sure I keep a terrific work/life balance that enables me to have energy for high impact times. This has been a huge help in learning how to relax.
- Learning and Co-operating with my natural life rhythms – I am now far more aware of my body and soul. This helps me to make sure I eat nutritious food, and get enough sleep. These days I build my business around self-care strategies because I have learned how to relax. I know what replenishes me of an evening, on weekends, or in vacation time. My wife and I are both building businesses and work hard; however, we take a week off each quarter, and then 3 weeks in the summer. We have learned how to relax. I know I can work hard for about 5 weeks and then I need to have a long weekend to slow down. I have positioned myself in business to be able to do that.
- Always be ready to give – It has been so important for MY emotional well being to be giving to a few other people. Even in my darkest period I found the simple joy of being there to lift a few people who were worse off than me. I am always ready to invest into people around me. I think God always brings them along. It has lifted my eyes off me onto another in a way that has helped me to feel better about myself and the world. Nowadays, with more capacity, I am part of a few groups that regularly give back to our community which is part of what makes the world a better place for all.
Dear reader, how are you? Have you ever forgotten how to relax?
I encourage you to look after yourself; eat well and keep physically fit and active. Learn ways to declutter your mind and emotions so you can be present to enjoy life every day. Keep a journal or see a counsellor if that works for you. Get to know yourself well in a way that releases you to learn your natural life rhythms and to co-operate with them. There are so many good courses and books around these days there really is no excuse for not growing personally. Make sure you lift your eyes off yourself and see to whom you can give that will do good and also help you to feel you are contributing to the world around you.
Do you resonate with my story? What else have you learned about how to relax?