Relaxation is a lost art in today’s world. We are in a state of constant movement and connectedness as we work more, spend more time online and in front of screens, and cut into our relaxation time.
Sometimes I have a fear of stillness. When I have “nothing to do” I get anxious and begin searching for something to do. Usually this means turning to my phone, laptop or TV for a source of entertainment or work to relieve my lack of things to do.
Sometimes this is good because often I actually have something that I need to get done (writing, work, finances, homework). Sometimes, though, we need to take a hint from our pets.
Most dogs and cats (and other pets) have a knack for knowing when it’s time to take a break. My parent’s dog is a professional nap taker. Our dog sure knows how to relax. When there’s nothing exciting happening, she is napping on the couch or wherever the sun is shining on the carpet.
We can take a few lessons from our pets when it comes to relaxing:
- Learn to do nothing. This sounds super easy but is actually incredibly hard when we have a hundred distractions vying for our attention. Learning to do nothing is incredibly relaxing. After a long day at work don’t automatically whip out your phone or turn the TV on. Take a ten minute nap and you’ll be amazed at how the rest of your evening goes. You can also do nothing while you’re doing something. Go for a slow walk with no music, no destination and no distractions. Just walk.
- Lay in the sun. I usually think about cats when I think about napping in that one little spot of sunshine, but I know dogs do it too. Guess what? People can do it too. Open a window that faces the sun (or go outside on a blanket) and relax in the sun. Feel its warmth on your skin. Bask in the glow of sunshine and don’t worry about anything else. It’s (almost) like going to the beach!
- Playtime is wonderful! One of the best ways to relax and relieve some stress is to play. Run around with your kids inside or outside. Play tag with your spouse. Play tug-of-war with your dog. Tease your cat with a laser pointer. Play some “just for fun” sports with your friends. Even though your body and mind are still active, you are not thinking about stressful things. This relaxes you by removing the stress for a short time.
- Go for a drive. I don’t know about your pets, but our dog gets a little too excited when we say “Do you want to go for a drive?”. Get excited and go for a drive. Don’t go shopping or anywhere specific. Just drive. Roll the window down and stick your head out (be careful, though). Drive to the mountains or the country or a cool park. Enjoy the sights and sounds. Take these moments to cut loose and forget about your problems. Sunrise or sunset drives are particularly great.
Pets are wonderful. I hope that we can all learn a few lessons from our furry little friends about taking it easy and relaxing.