As 2011 continues, I’m pausing to reflect on what this year has brought, so far. There’s been a lot of activity, a lot of productivity, a lot of accomplishment. And now that the summer is upon us, I’m ironically starting to back off on my activity a bit. It’s interesting – maybe I’m just the kind of person who runs against the grain, but when everyone else starts picking up the pace, I find myself digging my heels in and becoming pretty contrary. The more pressure I feel to DO SOMETHING, the less inclined I am to do it.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been coming across more and more mentions in the popular press about how we tend to drive ourselves too hard, we don’t relax enough, we don’t take enough time for ourselves and our health. I’ve been making my health a top priority (literally — getting up and exercising first thing each morning) for some time now. And I still do it. But where my devotion used to be intently focused and driven, now I feel myself backing off a bit. I overdid it a little bit with the exercise, pushing myself each morning to dive head-first into my physical day. And I believe I may have overtrained, to the point where I was actually weakening myself with my constant activity.
I was supposed to be getting stronger, but I felt like I was losing strength.
So, I’ve changed that up, and I’ve been a lot less driven about exercising each morning. Sure, I get on the exercise bike and ride 3-5 miles before I do anything else. But I don’t do those intense intervals, and I don’t always follow it up with lifting weights in my regular routine. I’ll do something else – stretching exercises or some light yoga or lifting different weights in a different sequence. Some mornings, I don’t do anything at all. I used to feel awful, if I didn’t exercise first thing, but I’m past that now.
And it feels good. It feels healthy. It feels like I’m doing myself a favor, by backing off. Sure, I do really push myself, at times. Many times, in fact. But I’m learning the value of rest and relaxation. Finding a balance. Able to rest and relax and not get too side-tracked by my resting… the way I used to.
This is progress. See, it used to be that I was either ALL ON or ALL OFF. There was no in-between. There was only ALL. And heaven help anyone who got in my way. Now, since I’ve been practicing relaxing, and I’m getting a handle on checking in with my body to make sure I’m not too stressed and frazzled, and my energy isn’t getting “stuck” in a lot of tension, it’s like this extra energy has loosened up with me, and instead of relaxation making me lazy or slothful or a stick in the mud, now it’s actually helping me be more active in good ways.
When I let myself catch up with myself, I give my sympathetic nervous system a much-needed break from fight/flight mode, and it can catch up with itself, too. So, when it’s time to get going, I can really get going.
I’m also learning how to get myself up out of a rut, and get on with things, when I’m “resting”. That ALL ON/ALL OFF business gets me stuck in “relaxation mode” and then nothing gets done and I get jammed up and start to piss and moan. And all the relaxation benefits go right out the window. Now that I’m learning how to get myself in gear, even when I’m stuck in the mud, things are going much better.
And I’m happier, too.
And that’s pretty cool.