There are so many hidden relaxation enemies that I don’t believe we fully see. After all, they are part of being human in a human body that is busy with a million tasks to complete.
Being a massage therapist, I see first hand in others what stress does to the body. It doesn’t matter if you’re a very religious person thinking that stress is a weakness. It doesn’t matter if you’re the finest new age guru in the world. We all have stress and if you don’t, you are most likely dead!
I don’t see stress as a sign of weakness. Instead, I view it as something we need to deal with in life. Everything has stress, whether it is good (eustress) or bad. Eustress is normal psychological stress that is beneficial to the individual. Even plants have stress when the wind blows. So maybe instead of trying to act as if we don’t have stress, we should acknowledge its existence and respond appropriately.
Before I was paralyzed in 1991 (See my book for more on that story), I was enduring a lot of stress and had been for some time. Relaxation, to me, was taking a few minutes for a walk by a lake. I was going to a chiropractor three times a week and while it helped initially after each visit, the effects wore off quickly. The stress was building faster than I could mitigate it.
If you are inundated by stress, relaxation is only going to happen in a limited amount. Think of it this way if you will. Let’s say your hallway closet is full but you want to add some more items. The only way you can do that is by getting rid of something, allowing you to have open space.
The one thing we don’t realize (and neither did I for a long time) is if we don’t make room for relaxation by getting rid of stress, our closets get jammed. We have to find ways to step out of the stress or let it go because if it keeps building up, relaxation is not going to keep up with the demand.
Too much stress is one of the biggest relaxation enemies you will find.
2. Thinking You Have No Stress
I see this one happen so much where people think they have no stress. Some think they are immune to it for whatever reason. From religious misguidance to new age mumbo jumbo, some will always insist that they have no stress in their lives. It is for weak people, they surmise.
I hate to break the bad news to everyone, but we all have stress. It isn’t a function of how highly you see yourself. If you wake up in the morning, there’s stress. Now, that’s not to say you can’t mitigate the impacts it has on your life, but thinking that stress is a four letter word will get you nowhere in life.
Trust me, I know that first hand, and so do most people. It is one of the relaxation enemies in life because we become too busy believing that which is not true and hiding from the reality of what is true.
3. Your Body And Life Are Numb
Yes, you read that correctly. We all numb our mind and body each and every day. If you think you don’t, then someone might need to recharge your diodes because you are not human.
We cannot go through life without numbing to some degree. If the boss has piled on a lot of work and the kids and family are demanding your attention, if you don’t numb to a certain extent, you wouldn’t make it in your day. Wow, that was a long sentence and a mouthful but it is true.
If you’ve been through horrible experiences in life or trauma, there’s a good chance you are numbing your body and life. I would place a bet on that one.
I’ve seen people go get surgeries for major health conditions that maybe they needed, but it was because they had numbed their life so badly, the body messages never got answered. By the time the body messages screamed loudly enough, the physical damage had been done. Unfortunately, far too many medical procedures are trying to address the physical outcome, but the behavior that led to them never changes.
Numbing is one of the relaxation enemies and it is far more prevalent than anyone will admit. Of course if you are numbing, it is difficult to tell and so these words I just wrote might mean nothing. They get skipped over as if they aren’t really true or are not significant.
4. Not Taking Time For Self-Care
Self-care isn’t something you do when things get really bad. It is meant to be a daily thing you do to help things from getting so bad, you find yourself drowning in stress.
Yet as I write those words, I know it is easier to say that than to do it. If we practiced self-care properly, we most likely wouldn’t be experiencing it as one of the enemies of relaxation.
Whether we get too busy or we just brush it off as something that isn’t really important, self-care helps. It helps us get to the point where we can practice relaxation. The more we do this, the more we open up possibilities in life. It has far more reward than we often give it credit.
5. Carrying Life’s Baggage Around
We all have baggage from life that we carry around. If you say you don’t, I would question that. No one gets through experiences in life, even with the best of times, without something that impacts them forever.
The key is learning how to discover it, acknowledge it, and then find ways to let it go. Transforming it into something that makes life more fulfilling is the key but that often is a difficult lifelong process.
One of the relaxation enemies is carrying this baggage of life around through every relationship, moment, future experience, and memory. Too often we are oblivious to the impact of it on life or we are unwilling to change things and let them go.
6. What You Think Is Relaxation May Not Actually Be
At one time in my life I thought I could burn the candle at both ends and it would not catch up with me. As added insurance to those misguided thoughts in my mind, I thought if I went out on a Friday or Saturday night and had some fun, that this is all was required of me. Boy was I wrong!
Sometimes we think outside substances and drinks and partying are how we should get rid of stress. Unfortunately while they may help us let our guard down, the stress is still there. We’ve just numbed it and ignored it while convincing ourselves that we’re doing something about it.
Many of the misguided things we do to trick our minds into thinking we are getting rid of stress are relaxation enemies. It is up to us to fire up the brain cells and truly see this for what it is. We alone can either be the trickster or the enlightened moment of awareness.
7. Not Connecting The Mind And Body Together
I believe one of the greatest relaxation enemies is not connecting the mind and body together. These days, we hear the buzzwords of mind body and mindfulness, but I only know a limited amount of people that truly understand this. It is more than a mere buzzword.
Far too often, we live in our “heads” so we’re not connected to the mind body. We may try to convince ourselves and others that we are, but we know that this is not true.
Connecting the mind and body together is about the felt sense. It is about observing what is happening in the body and then feeling it to become more aware and conscious. Once you’ve become aware of it, then you start to interact with it in order to let go. It is a key part that is missing in healing the mind and the body which allows for greater peace and relaxation.
8. Unwilling To Change
How many times do we become aware of things that impact us in ways we wish they would not. We complain about them and despise them, but we don’t do anything more. It is like this is as far as we go.
We’re unwilling to change and that is another one of the relaxation enemies. We keep repeating that which does not help us, but since we don’t change a thing, we will never get past it.
Yes, I know that change isn’t always easy. It can be quite difficult, but so can staying stuck in the same thing that hinders you from moving forward in life. Sometimes we have to go into what is difficult to let go of, in order to embrace that which does.
9. Body Pain
Body pain is one of the relaxation enemies. It can either prevent us from relaxation or be a result of no relaxation in life. It is a double-edged sword and one that many suffer from every day.
I know I have struggled with pain at various times in my life and when you are in pain, relaxation feels like a dream that will never happen. At the same time I have seen that stress impacts how pain shows up in the mind and body.
Pain is also a moment where our bodies don’t let go and release all the stress that builds up. If we don’t get good sleep, our body can’t process everything that has happened in the day. If we’re not taking time out for self-care, we’ll never get past pain so relaxation can appear.
I know first hand how difficult pain can be but I also know if I can work through it, then it changes. Contrary to popular opinion, I have learned that I can have far more impact on how pain and stress show up in my body than I ever realized. If you’re in the midst of chronic pain, this may sound ridiculous, but I’ve witnessed it in my life. You can read my book, Overcoming A Mysterious Condition to understand better what I am stating here.
Dealing With The Hidden Relaxation Enemies
Below is a talk I gave on Relaxation Through Mind Body Awareness. While it isn’t always easy doing these things, the more we work toward them, the better off we are.
If we can flip the enemies of relaxation and recapture the energy they rob from the mind body, we’ll be so much more empowered in life. Things will show up differently and the realizations will be profound.
Of course, relaxation begins with us taking small, steady, and consistent steps in that direction. Learning how to identify the relaxation enemies and then finding ways to let them go will be our ticket to possibility, peace, and freedom.
The more the enemies of relaxation captivate our lives, the less freedom and peace we will find. Without letting stress go in our lives, relaxation will be elusive and a struggle.