Relaxing isn’t lazy

After completing all tasks, the free time that we are left with shouldn’t feel wasted by relaxation.

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Relaxing isn’t lazy

by Olivia Powell, Writer

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When asked what I did over my weekend, I used to respond with “nothing.” I had watched TV for an hour, but that seemed unimportant and lazy. At the time when I was watching TV, I was relaxed and even afterwards felt recharged for the week. After completing necessary assignments, taking this break had left me feeling ready for Monday. I didn’t understand why I felt guilty for watching TV, even after I had finished all my homework. During our free time, we should be able to relax guilt-free and celebrate our hard work, with a balance between relaxation and work.

I always believed that it was more productive to be busy. When I spent a weekend watching TV, I felt like I had wasted my time. The truth was that I had finished all of my homework and answered all of my emails, so there was nothing left to do but take a break. Even when I had accomplished all tasks, I felt that I could be doing something more productive like writing a “to-do” list for weekend or reorganizing my backpack. I was occupying my free time with meaningless tasks that I didn’t enjoy. The sole purpose of assigning myself this “busy work” was so that I would feel more productive. I knew that I had overcrowded my schedule, but also believed that doing less would mean I was slacking.

After the first few weeks of the school year, I realized that my stress needed to be combated with some forms of relaxation. Even after researching ways to relax, I found myself saying that I simply didn’t have the time, when in reality I did. I had been filling my free time with unimportant tasks, that wouldn’t make me feel lazy or guilty. I had to tell myself that it was okay to reward hard work with a break, that even the most successful people need a break. For example, Beyoncé said, “…take the time to focus on our mental health—take time for self, for the spiritual, without feeling guilty or selfish.”

Some of my favorite forms of relaxation include journaling, being outside or meditative drawing. I have multiple coloring books of patterns and flowers that help me destress when I need it. Nothing resulting from these activities are tangibly productive; I have little use for a flower mandala. The valuable product is actually the time spent with yourself. A study by John Hopkins indicated that after eight weeks of yoga, energy levels of participants increased significantly. Even though you don’t gain anything necessarily useful, it is still productive if you feel better after. I learned from experience that after drawing or journaling, I feel like a new person. I have had days that seem to drag on forever, leaving me feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. After getting home, I can easily sit down to write and fill six pages with words, replacing my stress with a cramp from writing.

Relaxing activities are amazingly grounding, forcing you to be present and not worry unnecessarily. By taking time to be present and occupy your mind with a meditative task, relaxation can help to recharge. Instead of disregarding time spent relaxing as lazy, allow yourself to benefit from the time you spent. A major part of being able to relax is allowing yourself to believe that you will benefit from it.

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