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I continue to
hear from moms about how they unwind: Stacie Habib, mother of two and preschool
teacher, told me, "I build Legos. We're talking 2,000 piece
sets. I find it totally relaxing!"
So, we all
find our ways to unwind. But not every mom
wants to kick up her feet and lay back (or construct Legos, as the case may be). Jennifer Moss, mother of two and tax lawyer, has
found her ultimate relaxation. And guess what? It has nothing to do with
sitting down, or getting a pedicure or even taking a minute for herself.
"I don't how to relax," she explains. "I don't like to
relax. I don't even understand what it means to relax."
Really, she's serious.
"Trying to 'relax' is actually uncomfortable
for me. My mind is non-stop. I need to be doing something at all times," she told me. "When
I'm on the beach 'relaxing' without kids I'm running through my to-do
list at home and at work and what I want to be accomplishing. While
getting a massage, I'm thinking of what the rest of the day has in store for me
and what I need to remember not to forget at the grocery store and how I wish I
could ask the masseuse for a pen and paper to write it down. I absolutely suck at relaxing."
Jennifer told me it used to frustrate her and that she tried to force herself to relax because—of course—everyone needs to relax. Right?
True confession: when I'm especially busy, I'll write up a to-do list just for the satisfaction of checking things off.
"I tried yoga to clear my mind… Impossible!!
I just kept stressing about how I couldn't
clear my mind. I tried sitting on couch and just chilling but, after two minutes, I grabbed a computer to order things online and pay bills. I can't even sit
through a movie without multitasking ('Who wants to play cards with Mommy while
we watch the movie?!'). I read books, but it's always with the goal of:
how fast can I finish and get it done?" she said.
Then, a few years ago, she had an epiphany. She realized, she doesn't enjoy relaxing, it doesn't make her happy. Rather, than letting it stress her out, she started to give in to it. "Turns out, productivity is my
relaxation. Woo hoo! I finally found it."
She said she has embraced the insanity and no longer stresses about how to relax like everyone else. And that
self-awareness and acceptance? "It has truly relaxed me!" she said.
relaxation isn't for everyone. Maybe for some people, it's about what works for
you, what makes you happy. For Jennifer, it's being productive and checking
things off her to-do list. And you know what? That actually makes me happy,
too. (True confession: when I'm especially busy, I'll write up a to-do list
just for the satisfaction of checking things off.)
should be talking about this whole relaxing thing differently. Maybe we should
be asking a different question. Instead of, "How do you relax?" we could ask, "How
do you make yourself happy?"