2 November 2012

One Day. Why is relaxing so stressful?

This week marks the end of my education. After 14 years of schooling, (a 2 year working break) and 3 years of a university degree, I have finally finished [formal] learning. Handing in my last assignment and presenting my final presentation earlier this week I expected to feel a wave of relief; a bit of time to relax and unwind…

Instead I felt panic.

The word ‘relax’ has never really been part of my vocabulary. At some point it seems I became that person that doesn’t know what it means to ‘chill out’.  In any one day I would normally be up at uni for up to 12 hours before coming home to do the food shopping, eat some dinner and continue working on assignments or work for work. But if the truth be told, I actually like it that way.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with spare time. If I’ve got a morning free I’ll say to myself ‘great some relaxation should be good’, but a few hours spent watching a movie or lazing around makes me feel terrible and eventually I’ll find myself staring into space, frantically trying to remember something urgent I absolutely have to get done.

Over the years I’ve tried meditation and yoga. It claims to be stress-relief but for me it may as well be torture. I’m not sure why I thought sitting still in a room, doing absolutely nothing for an extended period of time was going to be helpful. “Quiet the mind,” they say… and I’m certainly not one to shy away from a challenge, so I make every attempt to think about nothing. ‘Think black, darkness, empty, vacant…. (which magically transforms into) vacancy, no vacancy, the horror movie, who was the actress in that again, she reminds me of that model who was in last month’s Harper’s fashion shoot, she wore neon Calvin Klein, I should go back to Witchery to buy that vibrant yellow t-shirt, perhaps I could get there on Thursday…’ You get the point.
Never. Again.

The only relief I seem to find comes from writing 'to do' lists. Getting it all down on paper is the only therapy I need, then as I achieve things, I take great pleasure in [somewhat violently] crossing items off one by one. Trouble is when the list is completed, I'm back to square one - feeling panicked because I'm list-less. So I start the system again: new list. It seems this is the best strategy for me and I'm sticking to it.