Everyone is busy. Everyone has a never-ending to-do list that they carry around heads. I'm no different - just another anxious young professional living in New York City - and with a default of "go, go, go!" and "do, do do!" it can be difficult for me to stop and just relax. It's frustrating to still be in "anxious, work mode" when you're on vacation and supposed to be enjoying yourself.
Earlier this year, at a bonenkai party in Turks and Caicos, I was asked to write down things I didn't want to take into the future. Amongst other things, I wrote: constant anxiety. When I threw the paper into the fire, I nearly expected myself to be automatically stress-free. It didn't happen. Apparently, you have to work at this relaxation thing.
For the next few days, I practiced sitting and being still. Enjoying moments without an itinerary or a plan. Sitting on a beach with nothing to do.
It wasn't easy. There were times where, I thought to myself "What now? What are you doing? You have SO MUCH to do. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME!" And then I would grab my laptop and check my work email - or nervously plan a boat trip to nearby cayes - or demand we go canoeing around the bay - or frantically drive around the island in search for junkanoo. Learning to quiet that voice was the beginning.
Allowing myself to sit, breath and be ok with silence and stillness is something I continue to work at. When I need to decompress while away but my anxiety and thoughts about the work I left behind refuse to subside, I remember to:
1. Concentrate on my breathing: Listening to myself breathe is somehow the most calming and soothing pastime. This also works in moments of in-flight anxiety.
2. Allow the anxious thoughts and then dismiss them: Distractions are not relaxation. I've learned to cope by allowing myself to have the thought and then dismissing it completely.