What does relaxing feel like?

File 08-04-2017, 22 40 28

I had some time off work last week and was determined to relax a little, to forget about the job I currently do and to think about what I really want to do.

Unfortunately, I haven’t relaxed for over a decade which sounds ridiculous, but it is kind of true. If I am sat at home, I have to do something whether that be writing or whatever. I cannot just sit down, read a book, and relax.

It has been this way for a very long time and the sense that all time doing nothing is wasted time persists and gets stronger as my grip on relaxing becomes a distant memory.

When on holiday, a proper holiday abroad, I can relax and simply take in the world around me because there is a lot of new things to see and do, but when I have a few days off from work at home, there is never a moment when I can just sit down and be myself.

This isn’t about me though, I am wondering if this is a problem of the modern age and if we are all suffering it to different degrees?

My children seem to be able to relax without any problems, but they again they are teenagers so their lives revolve around being slobs. I do, however, know a few people who also struggle to enjoy times where they just want to sit down and not do anything.

It could be because we are so used to all of the information that is constantly being thrown at us, it could be that we have less free time or it could just be that work practices mean that sub-consciously some of us feel that we should be doing something useful all of the time.

The fact is that we have more free time today than ever before and also more resources to count on to help us get the manual things done, but for some of us the idea of relaxing is still hard to fathom.

So, how about you? Do you relax and if so, what do you do to take you to that special place?

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13 replies

  1. I agree with you Shaun. I don’t feel I can relax as much as I might want to because there are too many distractions and things to be doing. Add to that I am not very good at sitting still and not doing a lot.

    I have 2 weeks off from tomorrow and whilst I want to chill and relax, I will be doing stuff at home because things need doing, seeing people I have not seen in a while. I guess I can do these a bit at leisure and relax a little but the pressure is never really off.

    • I wonder if people who are pessimists struggle the most. I find that when I do nothing, I worry and so do something to stop worrying. To stop worrying about things I don’t need to worry about:)

      • It also reminds me of that old “what’s worse- to take a holiday, and find everything went to hell at work, or to take a holiday and find out you were hardly missed?”

        Needing to feel needed is a motivator for me, maybe more than the “preoccupy myself so i don’t worry” idea.

  2. I think part of our problem is that we have been given this idea that doing nothing is the equivalent of lazy and that’s not viewed as good. Add to that job psychology which still says that more work is more productive so get to it.

    We equate relaxing with doing nothing or very little. I equate relaxing to doing something I enjoy with no pressure attached. And that very well may be work although that’s rare. I have a friend who’s a software engineer and he relaxes by building custom cabinets. Basically a change is as good as a rest.

    Relaxing is a way to recharge. It’s also a way for the mind to assimilate what’s been happening. Ever notice the things that pop into your head when you’re doing something on automatic but not thinking of anything specific? That’s what happens when your mind doesn’t have to focus.

    Don’t think of relaxing as doing nothing. Think of it as part of your work routine. You need to recharge or else your productivity goes down. You need to recharge or you’ll resent doing what you have to do.

    • Re: not thining specifically – it reminds me of how walking to the bathroom and back (I drink a lot of softdrinks at work) is such a necessary part of my programming practice. For some coders, programming is surprisingly emotionally fraught, a constant challenge to the ego and “what should I do if this next bit doesn’t work out like I expect?)

      • I think my ego got busted by my first programming manager. He promised me a case of beer if I ever wrote a COBOL program of more than 500 lines that compiled and executed perfectly the first time. Never got that beer.

        The other thing I was told was that the computer never made mistakes, so any errors were my problem. I found out very quickly that that’s not quite true. Maybe the hardware was that good, but the operating systems and compilers were never bug free. I guess their programmers never got that beer either.

        • @Bob – so, would you code 500+ lines, like, all at once and then submit to run? Or is it more, take your time incrementally writing 500 lines, but then I bet i can still find a bug in it? (My coding style in general is tiny baby steps ’til I get to where I want.)

          Also I feel like OSes and compilers have gotten pretty frickin’ reliable. Whenever I suspect something like that, that’s the surest sign it’s my own damn fault

          • I’m talking almost 45 years ago. I remember one glitch in an internal sort that no one could figure out. Turns out it was a compiler bug. Yes, OSes are pretty good. But there are still 4 or 5 point releases a year for iOS and MacOS. And I have no idea how many there are for Windows.

            Modular programming was the standard and structured programming was just getting started. No such thing as classes or object-oriented. Each program had to compiled completely. And it was more of a pain if you needed sub-programs, which were common when doing a large system. At that time I coded by hand and had it keypunched. I never learned to write lightly, so I used to code until my wrist hurt and then take a break. But with COBOL, 500 lines was not a big program.

            I used to code top down. In other words, I’d code a mainline routine, then the next level, and so on until I got to the bottom. That was my way of not having to worry about picky details until the end. But by then, things were so focused, that it didn’t seem that hard.

  3. Even when I have time away from my paid job, I have a stack of online projects I’d love to tackle.

    I’d say relaxing with a tv series or video comes closest to true relaxing, in the week to week aspect, or reading a book, though usually I try to weave that into the commute (books can slot in those odd spaces in a way shows can’t, both in terms of time and in terms of not looking at a screen and having to hear a soundtrack)

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