This is an idea that crystallised in my mind last week. From time to time, I’ve ‘relaxed’ by looking at the BBC website, Facebook, Youtube, Cyclingweekly, for hours at a time –  idling my brain and body. Eventually I rouse myself, but afterwards I don’t feel any better. In fact, I feel a bit deadened and dissatisfied by how I spent that time. However, I justified it to myself that I needed some downtime, to chill out a bit.

This is certainly true. We all need time to recharge the batteries.

But what I’ve recently realised is that not all forms of ‘relaxation’ are equal. What I’m trying to do here is not be more productive, more disciplined, more hardcore. I’m trying to work out how to relax more effectively. To feel better.

The question I’ve asked myself is: what activities make me happy and leave me feeling refreshed?

I’ve realised it’s not cruising through social media or news websites for hours on end, or watching a whole series on Netflix. These don’t give my brain the chance to switch off and recharge; they actually do the opposite, keeping it engaged and distracted. And at the end I have less of a thirst for life.

It’s nothing groundbreaking to say activities like cooking, gentle exercise, something involving your hands, meditation, even drinking a cup of tea without a phone in your hand, can be a lot more effective. These allow our brain a break, and give us a little sense of satisfaction at the end, that we’ve done a tangible something.

I think what makes this so difficult to do is the seductive ease of our phones and other digital devices. It’s also difficult because when we’re low in energy often the only thing we feel like doing is flopping in front of a screen. It takes a little more energy to start baking, getting out the door for a walk or settling down to quilting. But we feel better afterwards.

Now I’ve realised the difference between effective relaxation and other activities I used to think were ‘relaxing’, I’m going to try and work on this in my own life. There’s still a place for TV and phones, but it’s a small one. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if we feel better afterwards, then it’s worth doing.

Comment below if you’ve found the same. Or, share what effective relaxation means to you. And if you think I’m wrong or I’ve missed something, I’d like to know too!

Let’s challenge each other in a positive way 🙂

CanLive love X