Relaxation as a Spiritual Discipline

Relaxation as Spiritual DisciplineI have a productivity obsession. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an addiction, though in describing to a friend how euphoric it feels to check off a bunch of to-dos, he said, “You kind of sound like a junkie.” He may be right. Up until a year ago I didn’t think I had a problem. When I heard experts talk about self-care and meditation and “me” time, I’d roll my eyes a bit. Self-care is for wimps, I thought to myself. And I was certainly not one of those. I didn’t need time off for self-care. I had my to-do lists.

I started to question if I really had this all figured out when I was two weeks postpartum and back to work full-time because like most workers in the United States, I didn’t have paid family leave. Between the hormonal fluctuations and sleep deprivation, I lacked the mental clarity I needed to prioritize tasks. So then every task became the most urgent thing. On top of caring for a newborn and recovering from the birth, this created a perpetual state of mental exhaustion that was simply not sustainable. I needed to do something before I burned out completely.

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