Anxiety and Relaxation

Updated: May 8, 2019

This article is part of a collection of “quick thoughts”. The contents are intended to be an observation on daily life, rather than a thoroughly researched consensus on how anybody should think or act.

I have trouble truly relaxing. I’m sure you do as well. Most of us do these days. It’s extremely frustrating. We all work continuously. Why the hell wouldn’t we be able to relax when we have the time? Well, I have a theory...

Last Sunday, I had one of the most fully relaxing days I could remember in recent history. There wasn’t anything stereotypically relaxing about it in all reality. My fiancé, Tara, and I woke up, went to the gym, and then I proceeded to sit at home…all day. Ok, not all day. I did get up and go get myself a massive amount of McDonalds to eat. I ate, I watched TV, and occasionally, I messed with my computer and got some work done. Not exactly a crazy Sunday.

Most Sundays feel…well…undeserved. I try to take Sundays as a rest day for my body and my mind. However, usually I am plagued by this feeling that I should be doing something else. Maybe I should be working out. Maybe I should be working on my computer. Maybe I should be seeing family and friends. The should is always there and nothing seems to quench its insatiable thirst.

This Sunday, however, was wonderfully relaxing and anxiety-free. It didn’t make any sense. I didn’t really feel great. Our gym session was absolute dog crap and my body felt beat to all hell. There was no massage, fancy brunch, mimosas, or time with friends. Hell, even the movie wasn’t any good (I watched ‘John Carter’, I wasn’t impressed). Then it hit me.

This time, I earned it…

Difficult or Challenging

This particular Sunday wasn’t different. But the week before sure was. It was busy. It was productive. And most importantly, it was CHALLENGING. I know, I know…everybody’s lives are challenging! But that’s not what I mean. In my opinion, most people’s lives are difficult, not challenging. The devil is in the details. A DIFFICULT week is a result of just keeping up with things that you have to do, usually for other people, causing you to neglect your personal progress. A CHALLENGING week is a result of keeping up with the things that you told yourself to do, for yourself, in pursuit of personal progress. Now of course, we all must do things we don’t want and we all must do things for other people. It’s not about avoiding the things that are difficult, but rather adhering to the things that are challenging. It’s much harder than most of us think, but I believe it to be vital to a consistently happy life.

Trust me, this is not a recommendation to “find your passion” of “do what you love.” I hate that advice. It’s utter bullshit. Most people do not make money doing something they are “passionate” about. Instead, find ONE THING that you want to get better at. It does not matter what. What matters is that you find something you want to make measurable progress in and STICK TO IT. Work makes most of us tired and cranky. And the first thing to go is usually our hobbies, social events, and our desire to learn. And hell, why not? Work drains 8-10 hours from our days. We deserve some time to relax, right? Yes, but this is a dead-end street.

Slow Suffocation

You’ve probably heard it before. The airplane example. If you are on an airplane and the plane malfunctions, you ALWAYS put your oxygen mask on yourself first. After all, you’re not going to be much help to anybody else if you’re dead. Each week of your life is the same way. And unfortunately, I think most of us continually forget to put on our oxygen masks, leading to a slow suffocation of our individual spirit. I know how it feels. I spent way too long drudging through my weeks, gasping for air (figuratively).

Action is Satisfaction

Humans are progress fiends. Whether you are aware of it or not, you want to see progress in your life. Personal progress. Some people legitimately get that from their work week. But most do not. So, let’s call bullshit when we see it. Ask yourself. Am I actually doing something weekly to improve? It doesn’t have to be much. And frankly, you likely won’t want to do it most days. That’s what makes it challenging. I can’t promise that you will always like it. And I can’t promise that it will solve all your problems. But I’m willing to bet all those “should” statements in your head get a lot quieter…

These thoughts were prompted by my recent journey into the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. While most of the time I want to skip, I have continued to go and get beaten to all hell. This new hobby, while challenging both physically and egotistically, has given me a calm satisfaction throughout my week that no matter what else happens, I’m making myself better. Hopefully this experience can help you to find satisfaction in your weeks as well.