Eat, Pray, Love Your Downtime

“I’ve been looking forward to this all week,” is one sentence I hear a lot from my clients.  This is followed by life is busy, time is flying, there are endless to-do lists, not enough time in the day.

They happily get on the table, zone out for an hour and then at the end of the session, declare that they feel really relaxed, dozy and don’t feel like doing anything else for the rest of the day. They had a whole list as long as their arm of things to do post massage, and now the thought of negotiating shops or chores is a bit too much. (As if you are going to feel like doing anything after a massage with me, on my magic table).

Then I get that look that says, “can you please give me permission to not do anything else for the rest of the day?” or the other look “Is it ok if I just go relax and do what I want to do to?”

Relaxation, Creating Balance

Eat Pray Love Your Downtime

My reply: “Absolutely! Take it easy for the rest of the day.  Go sit on the beach or read a book. You don’t need to ask me. Just do it. As a therapist, I encourage rest and relaxation, as it is important about Creating Balance in life.

So, it got me thinking. Why is it that we need permission to relax? Why do we feel guilty for wanting to take time out to relax or do something that gives us pleasure?

There’s a scene from the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Elizabeth is taking a Gap Year through Italy, India & Bali. In Italy. She’s learning about Italian culture, the language and basically eating her way through every pasta dish on the menu, and of course the art of pleasure.  In this scene, her Italian friend Luca Spaghetti passionately compares the American and Italian way of life. In his opinion, Americans don’t know how to enjoy themselves without feeling guilty. He says that they know entertainment but not pleasure. Americans need to be told they’ve earned the right to relax after burning themselves out at work.  In the opinion of Luca, Italians on the other hand, don’t need to be told. They plan their breaks with no guilt attached and take them.

So, are we really conditioned to be so busy that we can only accept pleasurable things to do or “downtime”, or that moment of relaxation as a reward? Why can’t we be like Luca and know that pleasure and rest are what we deserve and are entitled to, without the permission?

Is it the idea that if we are not seen as being busy we’re lazy, useless or unproductive?  I am not saying we shouldn’t be busy either.  At times we need to be productive and get things done.  It’s about knowing when to switch off and do it without hesitation or reservation.

If we were told it was compulsory for our health and wellbeing to factor in downtime – would we think about it?  It should be part of our lifestyle and a normal part of life

Downtime, rest and pleasure are different for everyone. Some people find their best form of rest and switching off is by going paddle boarding, while for others it’s reading a book.  How often do you get to do that?

I’m not here to tell you how to relax and there are many ways to relax. I simply invite you to adopt the idea that you don’t need permission or an excuse to have a massage or sit on the beach all afternoon.  Yes, you deserve it.  So, reward yourself, then get into that habit of doing it all the time without permission.  At the end of the day, it is all about Creating Balance in your life.