• Amanda Joy

Relearning Relaxation Under the Filipino Sun

Freelancing gives a person the freedom to be able to work wherever you want, to choose what hours you do and how long you make them. These reasons are some of the biggest ones that I made the decision to become a freelance writer and project manager. However, I didn't account for my personality when I made this commitment to myself.

Most people might think "This is great! I'll only work 3 hours today!" I think "If I work for 9 or 10 hours, I can complete more work and get another assignment, thus making more money in the long run!" A couple weeks of staring at your computer like that is enough to make almost anyone go crazy!

My burnout about a month ago meant a loss of passion for my work. I write and work with clients I believe in, but this zeal for outreach had reached its limit and then started to wane. So, with my upcoming vacation to the Philippines, I decided to relearn how to relax and I LEFT MY LAPTOP AT HOME!

On the flight, I experience the classic symptoms of withdrawal: heightened levels of anxiety, constant thoughts of regression, a feeling of panic. My partner could barely understand it; why wouldn't I enjoy finally getting a break?

The reason? My mind had transformed during the last six months. Instead of walking around noticing the activities going on around me, I was thinking through to-do lists, outlines and organizers. I had slowly but steadily lost most of my ability to do things for myself, just to enjoy them. If it didn't have an end goal, I couldn't justify doing it. I had forgotten how to relax, letting go of some smaller parts of my personality.

So how did I begin to recover myself? I started by sleeping. Quite a bit of sleeping. Part of this was down to the bed that we had at one of our resorts. This bed was one of the best beds I have ever slept on. In. My. Life. This was officially my first step in relaxing. Spending an inordinate amount of time in the morning just letting my tight muscles melt away with the softness of the mattress.

After this, it was one of my goals to find something I enjoyed, that I did for only me and that made me happy. I was really searching for a feeling. I wanted to feel the relaxed kind of focused that offered a clear mind and a quiet level of enjoyment. No forced feelings, no forced focus due to an impending deadline.

My answer for this turned out to be further exploration into a relatively new hobby that I had put off for months: watercolor painting. So I began to paint. My problem with this for ages had been that I am not naturally gifted at watercolor. If I couldn't be amazing at it, then why should I do it? The thing is: practice makes perfect. And it makes me happy and peaceful. That should be enough. Now, as I paint, I am not just practicing painting, I am practicing my own form of rest.

The next move I made towards finding some of myself again was not because of any goal or motivation within myself. It was carried on the flippers of a sea turtle that my partner spotted while we were snorkeling. Being so close to nature, albeit in a different way than I am used to in the mountains, reminded me how important time in the outdoors is for me.

Camping culture is very prominent in South Korea, but it should really be termed "glamping" culture. They love to hike... up carpeted paths to the summit. They enjoy camping... inside tents with real beds and space heaters, grills and lighting equipment. I didn't realize how much I had relied on the feeling of having a wild connection with nature until I tried camping here. It didn't feel like being outside, it felt more like being in a modest hotel.

Now I know more about myself though, more about what I need in my life. This is such an important part of life: knowing real specifics about yourself. Its important because often little things trigger the biggest emotions. Knowing the small things that make you happy can end up changing your opinion about entire days, then weeks and then your life. Being able to avoid the little things that make you sad or angry, these help too.

With this realization came the ability for me to start getting my priorities straight. It is never to early to stop yourself from becoming a tired and bitter old woman. Thinking about this, my priorities shouldn't be about my work all the time, or even about relationships with other people. Sometimes, to be the healthy version of me that stays motivated and loves those around her, my priority needs to be me.

So I have started to figure out the little things that make me happy and healthy.

Working out consistently helps me to start my day feeling strong and confident.

A morning cup of coffee helps me feel energized and content.

Working on my painting during a weekend helps me find a zen place outside of my working hours.

I don't need these things, but I am a better person with them. And it feels good to know me.


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