Do you ever feel like it’s all too much?
I bet you do. Maybe I’m just projecting, but I’m inclined to think the more telling question would be, “How often do you feel like it’s all too much?”
Let’s face it, the modern world is a stressful place.
We live in a time when making it to the end of the week, or the day, without running into some sort of significant meltdown – or making a meaningful contribution to the collapse of Western civilization – is cause for celebration.
No wonder tension seems so omnipresent and inevitable.
But, like high fructose corn syrup and bad oils, just because it’s everywhere doesn’t mean you have to take it in.
Of course, you might not know you’re absorbing tension. Here’s a quick way to check – ask a friend to put their hands on your shoulders and press down gently. If your shoulders start dropping, chances are you’ve been storing tension in your upper body.
Sometimes my shoulders are hiked up so high I’m surprised I can hear a thing. I know how important it is to let go, for the sake of my physical and mental health. I even know how good it feels to simply turn away from tension. Still it seems I need help in remembering to relax and, since I have a hunch I’m not alone, I thought I’d share this first step:
Break the multi-tasking habit.
Sounds revolutionary, doesn’t it? And somewhat impractical. Who has the time to do one thing at a time?
Now, I’m not suggesting you stand and stare at your laundry in the spin cycle. But I think the more we can wean ourselves away from a constant diet of stimulus and half-assed response, the less distracted and tense we’ll be.
Try some of these activities at least once a week or so. As it feels more comfortable, you can move up to doing one thing at a time once a day, or more:
Listen to music, or read – If your idea of relaxing is sitting down with a good book and your iPod, try doing just one of those things. You might be surprised how much more clearly you connect with words or music when you’re only paying attention to one of them. If you like to watch TV, drink Redbull, listen to music and post on Facebook, while walking on your treadmill, be very careful. You’ll have to detox slowly.
Think without making lists – It seems that no sooner have I started thinking about the weekend, or getting together with friends, than I’m making a to-do list or a shopping list in my head. I know this is compulsive. I’m working on it, really.
Walk casually – Not for exercise, not to get from Point A to Point B, simply amble. Look around. Smell the flowers and listen to the sounds around you, like wind, cars, people, pets… Just listen. It’ll be easier once your shoulders start dropping out of your ears.
by Danielle Dresden