You want to know the irony of this entire post? I never fail to knock in at least eight hours of sleep a night, sometimes even as high as eleven hours of sleep. So I’m getting plenty of rest to recharge, right? Well, theoretically, this much time for the human body to slumber should be more than enough for most, but no matter what, I always wake up feeling like I could use at least one more hour lying down in bed with my eyes closed, usually two or three. However, I always kick myself out of the bed and go about my schedule even if I feel (and look) like death.
Can you relate?
In short, I cannot recall the last time I have ever felt relaxed, let alone calm or at ease. It might be weeks, months, even years when I was able to truly clear my head of any thoughts. If anything, the last time I was able to meditate was in eighth grade, which was a very painful and somewhat apathetic sort of year for me. I had no drive in my life, no reason to wake up and look forward to the day. It’s a time period that I am grateful for, but I would never want to repeat it.
Given my past with severely low self-esteem and helplessness (full story here), I promised myself that I would never allow myself to go without a plan for the future for as long as I’ll live. If I hated today, at least I had tomorrow and the coming days. There would always be something to look forward to or anticipate. This mindset initially went about with positive intentions. Something as small as a social event or seeing a friend the next day, or something more significant such as college life always motivated me to keep fighting through my daily struggles. I promised myself that my high-strung persona wouldn’t snowball onto a side that would carry more burdens with me, and I thought I never did. However, after coming from the other side, I realized I deluded myself into justifying these burdens.
Enter freshman year of college, I wanted to carry on this image that I could do absolutely anything I put my mind to, whether through academics, fitness, work, pretty much in any cylinder. Throughout my experience, I realized that my plate couldn’t suffice as many commitments as I had hoped for, but I learned to accept that. Still, I needed to focus 100% on what I had to balance and give my 150% into everything that required effort. With such energy exertion into my classes, finding work over the summer and the years to come, gaining experience for potential jobs, my social life, my social media, and my personal routine, my mind constantly ponders on the next task to accomplish. I no longer worried about what I needed to tackle next. My primary concern began to revolve more around what I could make myself tackle next.
I utilize every present moment of the day–hour, minute, second, milli-second–to plan out the future moment. While walking to the gym, I write down my next workout routine. Catch me scheduling an appointment (or two) as I walk to work. You’ll find me completing my assignments or reading material from the next chapter during a lecture, or at least in between the break. Oh, and did I mention that I even pace around while brushing my teeth in privacy? Subconsciously, I try to release my stress by walking or fidgeting. Walking for hours costs me even more energy than I can count, so no wonder I always come back home feeling like I can sleep for two years.
Even I question how I manage on such a hyperactive routine. I always wake up to an alarm that goes off before 6:30 A.M., complete a workout in the morning if it’s not a rest day, get myself ready for the day within ten minutes, and walk…walk everywhere. You know the daily 10,000-steps goal that everybody seems to fall short of, even those who are relatively healthy and active? I don’t mention this to boast, but share concern, that this 10,000-steps ambition is a little less than half of the number of steps I suffice in a day. Exceeding a little more than an hour of exercise on top of exceeding a little more than eight miles of walking a day sounds like much, but it’s almost second nature to me.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. Yes, I’ve heard it before. You don’t have time, you make time. I find it extremely embarrassing to admit that I, a crazy headstrong and active individual, still make excuses to push things farther back on my list of priorities. Unlike most, I don’t procrastinate on homework, studying, or replying to e-mails. What I shove aside are opportunities for meditation, journaling, self-reflection, yoga, and other practices that settle the mind, spirit, and body.
Procrastinating on my relaxation may seem unheard of to most. But my ego abides by this saying that if you are not working on something, you’re doing something wrong. Honestly, I have no idea where this phrase came from or if I just made it up, but yes, I know that there is always something that needs to get done and I don’t feel mentally secure if the problem is not solved. If only time will tell, the stress festers, especially when waiting on grades, responses to resumes, and text messages.
Just about a week ago, I almost drove to return an item five miles away in the middle of Los Angeles rush hour traffic in tears. Two major driving fiascos: never drive in traffic, and never drive in a terrible mood. I clearly knew these consequences, but someone needed to physically stop me from leaving the house to actually collect myself. Until the item was returned, I couldn’t stop thinking about this task.
Stress manifests itself in the most various ways. You can gain weight, lose weight, break out, overeat, under-eat, over-exercise, lay down all day, sleep for more than ten hours, or sleep for less than ten minutes. It’s evident that my hyperactivity gets the best of me, blunts my appetite, catalyzes my physical activity, and puts my mind on overdrive 24/7. Some people want to bury their stressors into the ground and forget about them, but I pretty much just ponder over them like unopened Christmas presents. I know it’s not mentally or emotionally healthy, let alone productive for me to do so.
As of now, I utilize my blog, photography, exercise, cooking, walking, and socializing as my main outlets of relaxation. I am so grateful to have the most incredible social support system of people I don’t feel like I deserve as well as the passions for many therapeutic hobbies. Then again, I have a deeper intuition that needs changes to my routine, whether walking less to rest my legs or more time to journal. In severe cases, someone to talk to.
All I can say is that I’m happy as hell. But gosh, man, I just need a nap. Right now. I don’t want to subconsciously dart my eyes every few seconds. Wanting to sleep at any moment of the day is not a happy feeling. Not being fully conscious of the present moment by thinking about the future kills me. Walking for eight miles or more is exhausting. On the other hand, I would rather never feel rested than feel bored all the time.
Obviously, there is such thing as a happy medium, but my extremist aspect of my personality doesn’t allow for breaks in between. Not knowing how to rest is hard to explain and puzzling to understand. At the very least, I acknowledge my hyperactive tendencies, I know why they don’t do the body well, and I have the desire to make some lifestyle changes. It is only the matter of making that time to shift my priorities, just as I make time slots to channel my high-strung personality and pretend like I can do absolutely anything and everything at a given moment.
What do you do to feel rested?