Is Death by Laundry a thing? I need to ask, because I swear it can happen. As I fold the 6th pile of clothes in a day, I muse that Laundry is a modern day Sisyphus myth. In the Greek legend, Sisyphus is condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down. Over and over again. Eternal torment and punishment. Laundry is like that, you can never truly celebrate getting to the bottom of the dirty pile, because a new one is accumulating somewhere.
Okay, so waxing philosophical about laundry probably means I need a break. It’s a few days before I get paid, so spending money on luxuries isn’t an option. How can I relax without spending money on….oh anything?
I thought about it long and hard….(which means I used my four o’clock insomnia)….and came up with an acronym. I love acronyms because with a memory as bad as mine, they help.
My acronym for Relaxation is……. W.I.T.H.D.R.A.W.
- Walk: In his evidence-packed book ‘Rest’, Alex Soojung- Kim Pang, dedicates an entire chapter to walking. He talks about the benefit of taking a break from working and simply taking a stroll, preferably in Nature and away from noise. It is a daily ritual that allowed many great thinkers to come up with solutions and seek solitude. It was a time to be with their own thoughts and work through the mental slush. Soojung-Kim Pang writes:
For many thinkers and doers, a walk is an essential part of their daily routine, a source of exercise and solitude. Thomas Jefferson advised his nephew to walk for mental relaxation and for physical endurance and added, “Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind [and] divert your attention by the objects surrounding you.” (p. 94)
For 21st Century dwellers, it may not be a physical book that you need to leave at home when going for that walk. It’s your tablet and iPod. Lose the music and listen to the sounds around you. Carry your phone (because cramping is a real thing and you might need an ambulance)…but keep it on silent and just for safety.
2. Inhale->exhale: There’s a reason we inhale deeply when someone sets us off with a rude remark. Yes, mainly to avoid snapping them in two like a twig…but also because that simple action helps us to calm down. It gives us that moment to breathe and think, before we do/ say something we might regret. I find myself using this with the little ones in my life. My nephew has a knack for creating mayhem in a minute. During an online class, he broke my liquid paper pen and covered the floor (and his foot) with its content. In that moment, I closed my eyes, (to say ‘Lord put a hand’) and I breathed in and out, from my belly. Abdominal breathing helps us to stop shallow intakes of air and release tension. Even ten counts of inhale/exhale can change your brain chemistry.
3. Tidy: Wait, hear me out. Tidying things up can help you relax. Last week, I felt heavy and weighed down. Walking into my bedroom, which should have been my sanctuary, made me feel depressed. All I could see, was my dresser in disarray. There was no order: makeup, jewellery, hair products….everything jumbled together. Knowing that I had to sort that out, hung over me like a cloud.
I forced myself to start discarding what was old, putting similar things together and making a give-away pile of earrings/ thingamabobs I bought on a whim. It took my about an hour (yes, it was bad), but the space it created…made the room lighter and by extension…me! I’ve been going through a Rose phase for a while, so I actually rearranged part of the dresser to reflect that. I now call it my ‘Pretty Station’ and I get a little lift every time I see it.
4. Honour your own voice: I mentioned in a post before, the importance of honouring your own needs. I continue to do the practice of speaking words of love and appreciation to myself, when I feel stressed and undervalued. Remember, when you’re hurting/ stressed, put your hand over the part of your body that hurts (it can be your heart, you tummy, your head..) and ask yourself, “Sweetheart, what do you need?” Then honour your inner voice by listening to what’s hurting you the most. This practice that I learnt from Katherine Woodward-Thomas, has been life-changing and healing to my spirit.
5. Design : Do not fight me on this one either. All of us are creative beings! Whether you draw an intricate mandala, or you delve into the soil of your garden, YOU ARE DESIGNING. I myself, kill everything I plant but I’m pretty good with a pen…too many of them if you ask my sister. I have colouring books and I zone out when I need to. I experiment with colour blends and I imagine gardeners do the same, envisioning how blooms will complement each other in a designated space. Give your logical brain a break. Activate different mental centres by giving yourself the freedom to design whatever you want. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. Just…Do…You.
6. Reflect: Most of us reflect instinctively. Even if it’s in those last few moments before we drift to sleep, we think about how our day went. Reflecting can be one of the most rewarding practices, if done often enough. It allows us to view what we’ve done/ failed to do from a reasonable distance. The wiser part of ourself steps forward and speaks. I recently tried saying the four statements of the Ho‘oponopono practice after reflecting: “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I thank you.” This Hawaiian practice/ prayer is all over the Internet, so you can check it out for yourself. Added to personal reflection, it helps you to forgive others…and most importantly, yourself.
7. Align: This is a tough one to write because I’m still learning how to do it. Aligning draws on the teachings of Stephen and Franklin Covey. We pack our agendas and planners with things to do and places to go. But sometimes, our starting point isn’t what it should be. We jump right in to our to-do lists, when we really should categorise our tasks. What’s important? What’s urgent? What really matters to you? If your planner doesn’t start with a page that documents the goals you’d like to achieve and the roles that matter to you, staple a page in, set your goals and state your roles. Your agenda should be filled with activities that align with both. If your goal is to be Fit, schedule Exercise. If you view your role as a Parent as a blessing, schedule time with your little ones and focus on only them. You will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and peace when you align yourself with what really matters to you and you actually spend time doing it.
8. Write: It has been proven to be effective, whether you do it online, on a piece of paper or in a special journal. It was recommended as part of my CBT course, but honestly, I did it way before that. When I’m particularly stressed, I just get a pen and start writing. I don’t even think, I just pour out on paper whatever I’m thinking in my head. Sometimes my hand starts to hurt because it can’t write fast enough to keep up with my mind. I am always amazed by what I’ve put down on paper afterwards. It feels like I’m reading the words of someone I refused to listen to and should have. Whether you keep the page or throw it away/ burn it…that’s not important. The therapy is in getting it out on paper. Sometimes when I’m lazy, I do Voice recordings instead. They’re also effective, but not as much as writing. My psych likens it to ‘purging’ your mind, and we all know how useful purges can be.
So there you have it folks. In no part of my acronym, did I encourage you to engage in retail therapy. We are teachers and a week before pay, nobody needs to shop (or can????).
W.I.T.H.D.R.A.W. to relax.
Also, stop checking your bank account balance 🙂
Peace and blessings to all.