The concept of taking it easy isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us. We’re constantly urged to be productive, achieve our goals, go, go, go! For me, chilling isn’t something that comes easy.
I’m a great example of a perfectionist who doesn’t really know when enough is enough. I struggle to feel like I’m doing enough. What even is enough? When in the day have I reached an adequate level of productivity, allowing myself to consider my efforts done for the day, ready to be picked up again tomorrow, or another day.
I am very rarely able to take it easy without feeling extremely restless. Try getting me to sit through an entire movie on Netflix without doing something else at the same time. My boyfriend has long since given up on me sitting through a whole movie with him. I know not to ask him to fill me in on the many gaps in the plot that I’ve missed while busying myself with whatever task I just remembered I had to do.
I fall into a kind of temporary depression whenever I’m low on tasks to handle at work. And I am by no means diminishing the very serious and debilitating condition of depression in saying that. As strange as it sounds – and trust me, this is difficult to explain – I truly feel down when I have nothing to do at work. A sense of meaninglessness overcomes me and I get anxiety over not being productive and doing work. Sometimes, if my idle state at work continues for more than a few days, I start to worry that perhaps my skills and role are not needed and that my position is threatened. I can even confess, as bad as it sounds, that I rarely (read: never) take breaks at work and am often satisfied with a lunch break precisely as long as it takes me to scarf down my meal and head back to my desk to get back into my flow of work (an estimated 15 minutes at most).
Of course, this all goes hand in hand with me being inclined to perfectionism in everything I do. I keep my household clean and always see tasks that need doing (surfaces need dusting, mirrors polishing, floors need vacuuming, and things need tidying). When your brain is hardwired to constantly see areas in need of improvement (both in yourself and your surroundings) sitting around for any stretch of time doing something that’s not working toward that never ending to do list in your head is just not a very likely scenario.
The comments I get from friends, family and co-workers with regards to my constant go reminds me that I don’t have to be so productive all the time. It’s okay to chill, take a break. It’s important to relax a little bit so I don’t wear myself down. And I understand all too well the sentiment and the negative effects a non-stop drive can have. But, as insane as it sounds, I feel more stressed out when I have nothing to do.
I know that as far as boundaries and limits go, my lines are fuzzy. But I do my best to try to slow down when my mind or body indicate that I’m speeding. Sometimes I notice too late and end up suffering the consequences of fatigue or headaches. I think the clearest indication for me is when I feel the need to isolate myself from people, which isn’t that uncommon seeing as I’m an introvert who’s easily drained of energy from too much socialising. On those days, I opt to work from home to get the solitude I need to focus and be productive.
So maybe it’s okay to be the way I am. Maybe it’s okay that I don’t really know how to chill or that I get restless whenever I try to sit through a movie. Perhaps my inability to make peace with being idle at work is exactly what makes me such a valued employee. And however short, maybe the breaks I do take are enough for me.
What I do when I Chill
- I read every night before I go to sleep and whenever I can find enough focus and peace of mind during the weekends.
- I write blog posts or journal, I used to do both of these more frequently and have been trying to find my way back to it lately because I love writing and am passionate about it.
- Netflix, occasionally I’ll get engrossed in a new series and binge watch it in a weekend.
- Podcast walk, I go for walks a lot on the weekends, for exercise and fresh air, and also as a means to create the potential for me to focus and listen through a whole podcast episode (i.e. remove myself from an environment or situation where I am able to start some other distracting task). A favorite podcast of mine is the true crime podcast Sword & Scale.
- Draw or do something else creative, whenever I get restless while trying to watch a movie, I’ll pull out one of my mindfulness coloring books and start doodling as I watch, it helps keep my unsettled feeling at bay.