Are you an iguana or a border collie?
Recently my husband and I spent a glorious ten days on vacation in Mexico in celebration of his 50th birthday. We traveled with five other adults to a resort which caters to scuba divers. I don’t dive, but Clay is enthusiastic about the sport, as were our fellow travelers. This interaction led to some fascinating insight on stress and relaxation.
When not diving, most of our group spent time lounging by the pool, with the iguanas (yes, actual iguanas). Being fair skinned, I spent some enjoyable time by the pool, in the shade, reading. I did not, however, have the staying power of the rest of the group. I needed something else. My husband, Clay, enjoyed being an iguana for a while, but then also needed to DO something. We took out the little sailboat, went for walks — coming and going from the pool. One of our fellow travelers remarked,
“You are always on the go. When are you going to relax?”
Here’s the thing — we were relaxing.
Clay joked at dinner one evening,
“I’m like a border collie. If I don’t have something to do, I start chewing on things.”
Funny and true, it is a good description of how he relaxes. He needs something diverting him from thinking about the things which cause stress. Staying still provides too much time to think.
Too often we think of relaxation in only one facet – as stillness. Meditation works for many, but if you are a border collie at heart, it may cause more stress to try to be still.
- Engaging hobbies are excellent for reducing stress. My dad, for example, loved woodworking and spent hours in his garage workshop building, sanding, and finishing. The “busy hands/free mind” essence of these actions can reduce stress for many people.
- Other people need highly engaging activities to detach from stress. Racing on an all women’s sailing crew last summer, I saw this in action. During the race, we are entirely focused on our individual jobs and the task at hand. Working as a team, chatting on the way back in from the race, all of it reduces stress.
Your way of relaxing might not look the same as it does for your fellow travelers, but that is ok. Embrace your own style and make time for activities to support stress reduction.
Are you an iguana, a border collie, or something else?