Mastering the art of relaxation

A hammock on the beach.

Have you ever looked at your cat and felt jealous of how chill they could be?

If you are a victim of not being able to truly relax because you always feel guilty doing nothing, raise your hand. Don’t worry, I’ve got my hands raised too. 

I don’t think I’ve ever truly had a relaxing holiday in my life. Well, at least up to the point where I was old enough to shoulder a couple of responsibilities. 

But it wasn’t until this summer break that I finally felt what it was like to really be relaxed. I was lucky enough to be able to fly back home so my parents took me on a trip to Desaru, a quaint coastal town in the south of Malaysia, for an early birthday celebration. We stayed at a resort overlooking the South China Sea for three days and did… nothing. This is a huge progress considering how my family would literally cram every sightseeing activity into that 3-day holiday if given the chance. For the first time, I was able to sit by the pool and read, take a stroll along the beach and destress at the spa.

While I was lazing by the pool, I recalled all the times I’ve felt horrible about taking a break – which happens to be most of the time. But why? I wonder. 

I suppose part of it was due to my upbringing. When I was in school, my friends and I would attend tuition classes on our term break. We’d also have to do a couple pages of our worksheets almost every other day – you’d think you can escape geometry and writing essays because you’re on a break but no, apparently break just meant that you didn’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. to get ready for school. 

I also feel like my inclination to feel guilty about taking a break is aggravated by my tendency to overthink. It’s like, I’ll lay down on my bed and get ready to watch "She’s The Man" for the 100th time then suddenly, my brain will go, “Hey, you should probably finish up that reading you’re supposed to do. I know you have 3 days to do it but like, just do it now because you might lose your textbook tomorrow or something”. So, then I end up switching off my phone and anxiously doing my readings.

Also, not to mention, the silent competition in law school can be intense. Everyone always seems to be busy which, in turn, makes me feel horrible for not being as busy as they are. I’m constantly asking myself whether I’m doing enough or as much as my peers but why should I think so? Aren’t we all supposed to be moving at our own paces?

To wrap it up, we’re reclaiming (actual relaxing) breaks in 2022! You shouldn’t have to feel horrible about taking a breather and you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out just because you’re taking a day off. It’s important to set aside a day to reset your mind and relax your body. After all, no one can do their best if they're burnt out, am I right?

Tagged in What messes with your head, relaxation, mental health, mental health awareness