For those who know me, most of them already know that I need alone time, or at least quiet time. What I’m realizing recently is I didn’t realize just how much of it I sometimes need to truly thrive.
Needing time to unwind is not about not liking people or being introverted.
It’s not that I don’t love connecting with those I love; I absolutely delight in deep connection and sharing love with others. I love deep conversations, walks through the woods, talking about horses or healing work, and moments spent physically close to those who are special to me. And for those of you I haven’t seen in a while… trust me, I miss you.
Some people might think that the only humans who need time to be quiet, reflect, or express are introverts. I would argue that everyone’s nervous system needs time to unwind, relax, and reflect, even if that is in the company of others doing the same thing. Even if you don’t think you need to relax, how can we expect to help our horses find relaxation when we’re not relaxed?
The number one thing that keeps us in a cycle of pain and stress is running.
In my bodywork practice, the number one thing that I’ve found helps people maintain relaxation, find deeper presence and awareness, connect more deeply with their horses, ride with more softness, confidence, and balance, and most of all–not continue to recreate pain and movement problems–is slowing down. So many of us are running.
I don’t mean physically running–I’m all for physically running with the right foundation, but that’s an entirely different post. I mean running internally. Mentally running, running from activity to activity, running from processing our emotions, running to avoid our fears of coming true, running because we’re supposed to be busy, running because we don’t have enough financial reserves, or energetic reserves, running because “we just have to”, or even because we feel like, ironically, we don’t have enough time.
We can slow down.
Even if you have a lot to do, you can slow your pace in small ways.
- You can give yourself a moment of quiet in between the hub-ub.
- You can trade one activity for time to unwind—even if it is in the presence of others (invite them to do it with you).
- You can do things with more internal quietness.
Notice: What Pace Feels Good for You?
I believe we all have and enjoy different paces. For me, I have a tendency toward anxiety (ruminating about the future is kind of my go-to). I’m a highly sensitive person*–I process things with a lot of sensitivity, a lot of intensity, and a lot of depth. I’m introverted, and need alone time to recharge my batteries. I have some health issues that make my energy a precious commodity.
For me, I’m on the end of that spectrum where, outside of work, I spend a lot more time alone than I do with others already. Recently, I started feeling into how my daily schedule and pace made me feel. I’d just check in during the day and say—how do I feel? Am I enjoying this? I realized I needed more quietness throughout my day, a slower-paced schedule (still being just as productive, but focusing on one thing for longer rather than doing lots of little things at once), and more alone time than I even thought I did.
And I realized: that’s okay–culturally, we almost think there’s something wrong with that. But that’s what I personally need to feel good and be healthy, so I am all in support of that. I make sure that that’s a priority for me–because for me, if I don’t do that, I literally can’t function. That tends to put things into perspective pretty quickly.
But even if you can function like that, do you want to? Do you feel good? How do you feel while you do that? Start to take notice while you live your day, how does this pace feel? In your body? In your mind?
It’s okay to be going! It’s okay to be doing, and it’s great to be productive. It’s even good to have a certain level of positive challenge and excitement around what you’re doing. But listen to your body to decide what feels good to you. Notice when you feel more tension from your schedule, and when you feel enlivened or relaxed.
Trade out one activity for Time to Unwind
Commit to giving yourself a little bit of time out of every day. That daily time can be 5 minutes, or it can be 30. Trade out another activity for time to relax, unwind, or reflect. It can be doing whatever you truly want to do–writing, reading, drinking your tea, a walk in nature, grooming your horse, a longer shower at night… Whatever it is, let it be quiet. Don’t include your phone, computer, or TV. Just be here, in your body, for a little while.
If you can’t be alone, don’t fret. Do it with those you’re with. Invite them to join you.
- That can be hard sometimes, at first. Setting an intention for the time helps me. Right now my mantra is Love-Peace-Move.
- If you need to, follow along with someone–I love Yoga with Adriene for beginner-friendly yoga and easy-to-follow meditations. She’s happy, and chill. There’s no pressure. Her practices last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, and they’re free.
Start with that little commitment to yourself–that little commitment to starting to slow the running. That little commitment to starting to find relaxation for yourself. And as you go along, you may find you want to trade out more activities for quiet time. Find your balance. Find what works for you, but start with just that first step.
Start Doing things with More Internal Quiet.
To slow down and give yourself the opportunity to relax and unwind, you don’t necessarily need to do less. You don’t need to have the designer schedule or wake up at 5 am to meditate for an hour everyday. All you need to do is slow your internal pace while you live your everyday life.
While you eat, instead of shoveling your food, thinking of all you have to do and checking your email, enjoy the way it tastes.
While you groom your horse and tack up for your ride, slow down each of your physical movements. (This sometimes actually makes it take less time, somehow–it’s like magic.) Feel your horse. Talk to him, or just brush him with a lot of love. Breathe in and out. Notice something pleasant. Enjoy it. Then notice something else beautiful. Enjoy that.
Take the things you already do anyway, even the less enjoyable things, like laundry, or your commute to work, and slow down your body movements and your thoughts while you do them. Focus on your breath, and find things that are pleasant in the experience. Enjoy experiencing them. Even if it’s stressful, you can take it as time to practice loving others, breathing deeply through the difficult moments, or setting boundaries that make you feel good (been there, done that).
Ultimately, do what works for you.
Find the things that allow you to feel like you can breathe and feel more peace in your life, and enjoy those things, or those moments. These are just a few ideas, but get creative. Ask yourself—how could I unwind a little more? How could I relax a little more? How could I enjoy this moment a little more?
Your body, your horse… and your bodyworker… will thank you. ☺️