Relaxing vs. wasting time

I’ve had so many conversations with people that follow this general path:

“I was laying on the couch and reading but couldn’t help but think about all the other things I had to do and how I was wasting time.”

We can’t “be productive” all the time.

In muscle strength building, the time spent strength training causes lots of micro-damages to the muscles. We get stronger when we rest; the muscles have time to repair the damages which makes them stronger. Over time, the muscles adapt to the increased demand: increased strength.

Our daily lives cause lots of micro-damages to our spirit (or soul, psyche, self, or whatever you want to call it). We need rest to be able to recover, just like our muscles.

It’s not wasting time. Preparing healthy food, getting enough sleep, exercising are all not wasting time (though they definitely use time); relaxing isn’t wasting time, either.

For me, the difference seems to be intent.

If I’m fooling around online, reading articles, watching videos, playing games because I’m procrastinating, I don’t feel rested when it’s done—I feel stressed, kind of ashamed, and somewhat drained because I have all this stuff to do and I’m wasting—or wasted—time.

On the other hand, if I decide that today I’m going to spend an hour just reading articles and watching videos or playing games, I feel OK about it.

As a small tangent, I feel the best when my down time isn’t on a screen. I think that’s because I have spent so much procrastination time doing these things that there’s a subconscious connection between emotional fatigue and non-productive work on screens.

So. Schedule yourself some down time to spend in a way that helps you relax and recharge. I would love for this time to happen daily, but given life as it is, that’s just not feasible for many of us.

That said, if you take 15 of the minutes you spend on email and social media to power down, suddenly, there’s time on more days than we thought.

My main go-tos are reading, coloring, playing ukulele, and drawing or doing calligraphy (which I just started and am subsequently still really bad at). With the hammock back in action, just laying in it for a while sometimes hits the spot. Occasionally, a massage is in order.

How do you relax? Are you able to set aside the to-do lists for a while?


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