When is relaxing NOT relaxing?

The Art of Limp Limbs

How do you relax? 

A quick pint or two on the way home from work? Maybe you like to read a book or watch T.V?  

Perhaps you like to listen to music?

All these activities are regarded as relaxation, yet from a stress busting perspective, they are nearly worthless.  ​Really it all depends on how much stress you are under at the time.

If stress is an issue for you, and if you are reading this we can assume it is, these activities are nowhere near enough to balance everything you’ve got going on.

Imagine you get a new job.  At first it’s fun and you enjoy it.  But over time the work gets harder and there is more of it.  You find yourself having to skip breaks quite often.  Then your kind and thoughtful boss is replaced with an uncompromising bastard and everything gets worse.  Now you hate your job and you can hardly bear to get up in the mornings.

Over the past six months or so your stress levels have been increasing subtly and you have been relaxing in the evening by watching telly.  But your stress levels are still getting higher.  You might feel tired and lack enthusiasm.  Maybe you are a bit snappy with the people you share your life with.  You are probably not sleeping as well as you were.  You are not as happy as you were and life isn’t as much fun anymore.

Those relaxation activities you do are no longer balancing the stress you are under. They are simply not enough anymore!

The Telly Shuffle

When carpets are manufactured for your lounge, they are made to a quality that can withstand the Telly Shuffle.  This is the factor whereby your feet shuffle and move about in front of you while you watch T.V.

Our body moving when it doesn’t need to is caused by the myriad of stress chemicals surging through it.  When we watch T.V. we don’t need to move anything.  Yet we all do the Telly Shuffle.

This is a sign of stress.  Moving when we don’t need to.  The inability to stay still.

Now here’s the thing, Every sign of stress is a stressor in itself.  So if we allow the body to move when we don’t need it to – twitching, fidgeting, shuffling, fiddling, tapping, etc. – We are not dissipating the stress chemicals that are surging through our bodies; and are actually creating even more stress.  And when we do that, our stress only ever gets worse over time.  Perhaps gradually, but always worse.

​Every sign of stress is a stressor in itself

Click to Tweet

The relaxation activities I mentioned earlier don't balance stress because they don't dissipate the stress chemicals.   As a bare minimum you could do the exercise at the bottom of this post.  It’s quite an effective stress buster, but has to be done regularly.

The best way to deal with stress is to think of a set of scales.  Whatever is upsetting you in life, or any struggles, difficulties, relationship issues, work issues, whatever, that is happening – you have to balance them with effective stress busting time and exercises. 

The more you have to cope with, the more stress busting is needed.  The trouble most people have with stress is that they think when all that stuff they have to deal with goes away, so will their stress.  That’s a paradox!
The truth is that all your problems are made worse by stress, and not dealing effectively with your stress prevents you from dealing effectively with your external stressors (your crap boss, etc).

Deal with the stress and the problems take care of themselves.

This because your mind is clearer and more creative, your emotions are controllable instead of controlling you, and your body is calm and relaxed.  This can’t happen by reading a book or watching T.V.  It’s just not enough.

The Solution:

The Art of Limp Limbs

This is a simple but highly effective stress buster – but like everything, it only works if you use it frequently.  Don’t be fooled by its simplicity.  Like most stress busting the only real obstacle to its effectiveness is your willingness to take back control and to do whatever it takes often enough.

Use this technique every time you sit down to do nothing.  Whether it is to read a book, listen to music or watch T.V.

Place your two feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap.  If you want to put your legs up, even better.  Stretch out on the sofa.

Your job now is to stay still! 

No matter how much your body wants to move, you keep it motionless.  The urge to move is just the stress chemicals surging through the body  (The Fight or Flight Response).  After a short while you will begin to notice your limbs getting heavier and more relaxed as the chemicals begin to dissipate.

This is also a great stress test.  The harder it is to stay still, the more stressed you are.  Do it for ten minutes every time you have some Me Time.  You will soon notice a reduction in your stress levels.

© 2019 John Freeman

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with life and would like to look at their struggles from a stress busting perspective, I offer a FREE Stress Audit call to anyone who needs it.