Did you know that August 15th is National Relaxation Day? It was created in 1985 by a boy from Michigan who believed that people “think too much about working” and “not enough about relaxing”. August 15th is this day. Is it a coincidence that in Italy it is also a bank holiday, Ferragosto? Everything comes to a standstill at Ferragosto and this year it happens to fall on a Sunday.
However, I’m sure that relaxation should not be kept for just one day a year and we should be reviewing the balance in our lives regularly. The text books tell us how to: manage our blood pressure, fall asleep more easily, avoid stress-related illnesses and generally improve our immune system. Of course, with Covid having blighted our lives for the last twenty months or so, moving into a relaxed state of mind isn’t something that just falls from the clouds.
Having done an awful lot of work, via coaching, with helping people to manage their time, I know for sure that relaxation never occurs on anyone’s action list and, indeed, people don’t really follow lists; they follow diaries. So, if we’re going to remember that relaxation is important, we need to manage our time effectively so that we have some ‘me’ time diarised regularly. If it isn’t in the diary, it doesn’t happen and that is certainly true for switching off.
There are those who have a passion or hobby that is all consuming, which may not be considered relaxation but it can have that effect, because it takes you over completely for the period in which you’re doing it – for me it is the piano and, when I play the piano, I cannot think of anything else other than what I’m playing or practising.
So, planning time for relaxation is vital. If we read all the articles on longevity we are told to sleep sufficiently, enjoy socialisation and avoid loneliness, and have regular physical as well as a chosen mental exercise. This is equally applicable to any national relaxation day.
Finding the time to be with others productively, and those with whom you have a common interest/purpose, is very enriching. This, of course, is even more critical with the advent of the recent pandemic. Even in the workplace we have to put in place a number of communication mechanisms – not just Zoom/Skype/MS Teams and forums in which we can meet each other as a group, but some sort of chat mechanism to enable individuals to talk to each other very quickly such as WhatsApp and Teams and, for bigger organisations, specifically developed internal chat mechanisms but, remember, your employer will always know what you are saying if the relevant drives are scrutinised.
We have two chat rooms – one for frivolous jokes and social sharing and a more serious WhatsApp group for work matters, so that nothing slips between us, as well as a project management system. Where are the gaps in your organisation?
However, whilst we’re sitting quietly, considering how we relax, it is probably worth considering how we manage our time, as it is the most critical resource and life has a habit of flying by.
If we look at the Wheel of Life, we should really be planning what we wish to achieve in our lifetimes in each of the eight areas and, if we don’t, we may be overcome with regret.
There will be things we have done and wish we hadn’t but, more importantly, things we wish we had done that we didn’t do.
So, just give your National Relaxation Day a little bit of hard work, contemplating how you want to spend the next 30 years and how you want to look back on your life at that time. Relaxation needs to be a part of it.