The Art of Relaxation

Americans don’t know how to relax. We are on Go Mode from the moment the alarm buzzes in the a.m. until the second our heads hit the pillow at night. And even then we lay awake thinking about things that didn’t get done, worrying over things that need to be done, regretting things that got done but not-quite-right. We give very little thought to what was accomplished. And we certainly don’t stop to reflect on our successes.

Jekyll Island bird sanctuary

Jekyll Island bird sanctuary

My family just recently spent three days camping in SE Georgia at a peaceful camp ground, and I watched how my daughters, my husband, and my parents handled the down time. And I noticed that age may play a part in the ability to relax.

My husband got bored pretty quickly; he’s the type that needs something to do from dawn to dusk. My daughters found activities to occupy themselves, but they also had a hard time doing nothing but ‘being.’ My parents, who are retired, were able to relax much more easily. They napped, they bird-watched from a swing, they sat by the fire pit and talked to me. They really have the relaxation thing down.

I fell somewhere in between. I felt the need to just sit and enjoy the quiet as it conflicted with the pull to be active. Maybe it’s the American society that creates this discord.

Think about it—we have smart phones that give us instant updates of Facebook posts, tweets, emails. Any site that we are members of and have an app for can push updates to us 24/7.

Then there are commercials on TV. The TV that has 200+ channels that include cooking shows, hunting shows, reality TV, and on and on ad nauseam. The commercials promote everything we need to live the lives of our dreams, but it all costs money. Money that we have to spend our life energy attaining just to buy the things, the vacations, the lifestyle that will make our lives easier so we can relax.

It’s a double-edged sword. One that Americans are encouraged to swallow. There’s no TV show teaching us how to relax, how to just ‘be’ and not ‘do’ all the time. And there probably shouldn’t be. We have to figure out for ourselves what it means to relax and enjoy our family, our down time, ourselves without being plugged in to media, social or otherwise.

Now, excuse me while I go relax on the front porch and plot how to get the squirrels to stop feeding from my bird feeders.

2 Replies to “The Art of Relaxation”

  1. You are not wrong. And I have come to the conclusion that watching TV does not count as relaxing for just the reason you cited. Too many commercials with the ever-present command to buy, do, get more stuff! or you won’t be cool, or attractive, or happy. Gotta draw the line somewhere. I think my line leads to a pool floaty and some sunshine.

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