who are the watsons?
We are a 30-something married couple who decided to leave behind our home, careers and comfortable Silicon Valley lifestyle to try a new course. Join us as we travel the world to learn about other cultures, lifestyles and ways to generate income beyond the traditional 9-5.

Why I can’t relax (and neither can you)

I’ve been in Hawaii for more than two months now.  I am job-free, child-free, mortgage- and debt-free.  It’s a beautiful day: birds are singing, the sun is shining and a cool breeze is blowing.  I practiced yoga this morning, I am currently listening to my favorite tunes and I have no immediate responsibilities.  So, why can’t I relax?

Because relaxation is a state of mind independent of external conditions, and I have trouble wrangling my mind. Unless consciously controlled during meditation or yoga, my inner monologue runs something like this: I need to write a blog post.  I also have to prepare Laurie’s lesson for Thursday and read my next Artist’s Way chapter. Oh, mustn’t forget, we’re out of almond butter and toilet paper.  I guess I need to go to the store.  I really need to clean the kitchen.  And there’s that list of places I want to see before we leave Hawaii.  Isn’t that part of the reason we’re here?  But wait, I got a new email.  Oooh, and there’s a new blog post from… Before I know it, my mind is spinning out of control with real and imagined responsibilities, and I’m feeling as stressed out as I did at my very busiest in Silicon Valley.

I practice yoga asanas several times per week, I take walks and do other forms of exercise, and I utilize a technique called the Sedona Method to bolster my emotional wellness, yet lasting relaxation still eludes me.  Oh, I have moments of peace in which I’m deeply grateful and believe that I will never be stressed out again — usually following an intense yoga practice — but then something happens and I psych myself right back out again.  I know what you’re thinking: If someone whose life is so easy can’t relax, how in the heck are the rest of us supposed to? That’s exactly my point.

Relaxation isn’t dependent on external factors; it’s incumbent on each one of us to choose and then allow. There will always be something or someone to interfere with your peace and happiness.  Whether you’re a big-time corporate exec who puts out metaphorical fires 80+ hours per week, a trauma nurse who literally saves lives moment-to-moment, a stay-at-home mom with screaming children and no time for herself, or an independent traveler like myself, there is always something…unless you consciously choose to relax and let go.

Today, I am making that choice for myself.  How?  I’m:

  1. Telling myself that it’s okay to relax.
  2. Acknowledging my inner dialogue and assuring it that I’ll do what needs to be done when the time is right.
  3. Taking deep breaths.

Anaehoomalu Bay, Waikoloa, Hawaii

What are you going to do?

  • Gcalef

    Just some rambling…
    Why wrangle your mind. I need to relax. I DONT NEED TO DO ANYTHING BUT RELAX. Doing the dishes can be relaxing. I can relax by not relaxing. Why should I relax in the first place? Wind Shear? Yea, that's not relaxing.
    F relaxing – Smile, SMILE and do that.
    Wind Shear? Smiled when it ended.

  • Paul

    Many moons ago, my wife and I vacationed in Kauai. Before we left, friends and family told us all of the places we had to go and we had made our own list. We spent the first half of our vacation manically driving from one side of the island to the other – we were not relaxed and we did not see any of the things we wanted to see. The situation came to a head while hiking to a waterfall; I lost a flip-flop to gluey mud, my wife was getting eaten by mosquitos, we were both irritable and ended up getting in a shouting match. The rest of the hike to the waterfall was made in an uncomfortable silence; the pool under the waterfall was closed due to leptospirosis. On the hike back we started laughing at the absurdity and decided to relax and enjoy our remaining time on the island. The remainder of the trip was one of our most enjoyable vacations. Each evening we would decide what the next days destination(s) would be and we would not second guess ourselves – when we went to Poipu beach to snorkel and the visibility was poor, we snorkeled anyway. When it started raining, we went to the bar. When we were working at relaxing, we were everything but relaxed; when we let go and stopped trying so hard, the relaxation just sort of showed up

  • Amanda Thompson

    I meant to comment on this yesterday when I saw it. Man, I can relax easier than you and you're on permanent vacation! LOL You are sooo right. It really is a state of mind, and it has to be learned. I can relax pretty easily most of the time, and I just tell myself that being stressed will not do me any good. I gotta share your post :) Good luck relaxing! :)

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    I know exactly what you mean, Paul. I've totally been there. I've always been more of a scheduled vacationer, but Brian is more of a go-with-the-flow sort, so together, we tend to follow his way. We didn't see everything we'd planned to during our recent hop to Oahu, for example, but we hit the major highlights and got in some relaxing time at “home” too, which was just as nice. Welcome to the blog!

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    Thanks, sis! You're better at a lot of things than me. I admire your happiness quotient, too. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  • Amanda

    Oh, wow, I'm flattered, but I'm not sure what I'm better at you than relaxing… LOL! I can definitely do that, lazy is fun :D But I dunno that I'm better at a lotta things :) Miss you, talk soon.

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    Here are a few off the top of my head: Math. Making friends. Holding down a real job in a big organization. Talking to random folks. Being relaxed & happy on a day-to-day basis. Maintaining your youthful figure. ;-) That's 6, pretty good, I think.