…be productive. …relax. I find myself thinking both of these thoughts throughout the day, and I’m beginning to think these concepts are completely meaningless.
I hurry up to finish whatever task so I can move on and be ‘productive.’ As a stay at home mom, ‘productive’ looks and feels differently than I thought it would. I thought I’d feel productive if I did a daily workout, if I cooked nutritious meals, if I completed all my household responsibilities, and the list goes on. But I don’t really feel productive unless I’ve checked off something on my personal to-do list, like write or read or create. I’d like to say that I do all of those three things every day, but unfortunately I have some days (or even streaks of days) where I’m 0-3.
When I’m not rushing through something to be productive, I’m hurrying through something else so I can ‘relax.’ Relaxing feels elusive because in order to relax I would have to get rid of the pit of worry in my stomach or the throbbing tension headache. I haven’t mastered shutting off my brain long enough to feel the sweet relief of relaxation. And when I’m done relaxing, I often find something unpleasant waiting for me, something that wasn’t attended to properly before I hit pause on my responsibilities.
I am hopeful that if you’re reading this that you can relate. I have to believe that I’m not the only one struggling with the need to be productive and the desire to relax. I’m going to try and put both ideas aside and muddle through just living. I’m going to be more present in the daily monotony and stop worrying about when I’ll get that next blog post up or that long overdue story edited. I’m going to approach relaxing like I do living and put it in my calendar and check it off the list. I put ‘read a book’ in my calendar two weeks ago. I’ve finished two books and I’m onto a third, which is three more than I read in all of 2016.
If you never make time for yourself, for productivity or relaxation or both, you never will until you find a way to make yourself accountable and stop the cycle. I adhere to goals when I write them down in my journal or calendar and then talk about them with other people. If I keep my goals a secret, I let myself down every time. I don’t think I matter a whole lot, and therefore I can easily dash my own hopes.
Maybe making plans to be productive or relax is silly and both should only carry as much weight as something like brushing one’s teeth at least two times a day. I have an app that reminds me to breathe, and sometimes I ignore the friendly chime altogether. I’m not dead, so clearly I’m inhaling and exhaling, but breathing is probably key in restoring balance to productivity and relaxation.