LEARNING HOW TO RELAX WITHOUT GUILT – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/02/nyregion/learning-how-to-relax-without-guilt.html

improve these archived versions.

WHY do I always feel guilty when I’m not doing anything? I mean, what’s the big deal? The cat sits around all day and never lifts a paw, yet I feel like a degenerate when I’m idle. Maybe the cat has a better analyst. Who knows. But me, I’m like a kid caught robbing the cookie jar.

My friend Sheila sits for hours devouring the soaps, while curtains are still packed away from her move six months ago. I get nervous if the 4:30 movie sounds inviting. And what about Ginger who, behind closed doors, daily from 2 to 3, hums her mantra, totally relaxes her body and soul, and emerges as if she’s had a 10-hour nap. I tried that once, but found it difficult writing my grocery list in the lotus position. Then there’s Pam, who takes one day off every other month, her ”sick and tired time,” she calls it, just to laze, read Redbook and sip tea. She unplugs the phone, puts on her robe and really gets into relaxing.

How I’d love to get into relaxing! What’s wrong with me? I don’t think I was born this way. Looking back, there were no great traumas in my childhood warranting this aversion to loafing. Just where along the way did I pick up the guilties? Was it the occasional prod by Mom that ”idle hands are the devil’s tools”? Or could it be because I always finished my chores faster and seemed to be sitting around all the time, and Mom would say, ”How can you just sit there while your sister does all the work?”

Maybe it’s because over the years, two bosses have trained me to keep busy. Even when I have a minute’s breather, there are always those folders with little notes attached like, ”for your spare time,” or ”when you have nothing to do,” or ”leisure

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