My Struggle with Relaxing

I am the anti-loafer. The constant doer. The mover. The shaker.

My goal each morning is to check off items on a seemingly endless to-do list. My goal each night is to remind myself of how efficient and proficient I’ve been. In fact, on my tombstone I figure they can carve: “He got a lot of shit done.” It can be a tiresome, Type-A life.

And yet…I don’t know any other way to live my life. I’m not sure if this how I came off the assembly line or how I was nurtured by my Type-A father, but this is me and I’m proud of it. For the longest time I carried around a fortune from a fortune cookie that read, “Your ability to juggle many tasks will take you far.” Fits me perfectly.

But lately, I’ve hit a snag. An unforeseen bump. A question that has cut to the core of my “get-it-done” mentality. Here it is:

How do I relax?

You see, I relax by getting things done. And with two kids, three jobs and a house, there is never nothing to do. So, how do I unwind? It’s challenging for me to wile away the hours — or the days — in front of a television. While I’m sitting watching tv, why not fold some clothes? Search for stuff online? Pay bills? Send emails for work? If I don’t do those things, I feel lazy and unproductive and, for me, those are sins without compare.

There is a belief that once I get everything done, then I can relax. But you know what happens? There’s always something to be done! My wife and kids visited her family for Thanksgiving. I stayed home and worked. I used every ounce of free time from my job to master a mighty to-do list of chores, home improvement projects, organization and preparation for Christmas. It’s never-ending.

It’s a challenge for me to relax when there is work still to be done. That to-do list calls out my name, beckoning me. “You’ve got unfinished business,” it reminds me. “There’s something you can do to make your home more organized,” it lets me know. Not that it’s all bad. When I accomplish a series of tasks, I feel better, more complete and can rest my head knowing that I’ve eliminated a task that I could have put off until tomorrow. That’s empowering.

However, I want to make sure that I’m not overdoing it. There is a time to sit and linger at the dinner table and talk, without rushing to load the dishwasher and clean up the meal. There is a time to say “screw work,” put my feet up and chill. There is a time to take a nap (that is sacrosanct.) Also on the protected list is time with my wife and kids. I can easily put off chores or projects to spend quaility time with them.

I think I’m going to try a couple things, though. First, I’m reinvesting some time into yoga. In all my sports and working out, nothing has motivated me, pushed me or worked my mind and body like yoga. That is a must. Second, reading is a renewed priority. There are way too many distractions these days, but a book is like a time machine to a distant planet or a long-forgotten time. Sounds relaxing to me. Finally, I’m going to try and give my mind and body a break every once in a while. Just laying on the floor, stretching, daydreaming and doing absolutely nothing is vital to our mental and physical health.

That’s because even the most effective and accomplished time manager needs some down time.

(Photo credit: Joaquin Villaverde Photography / / CC BY-NC-SA)



The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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