I have a hard time relaxing in the way most people define relaxing even when I have days off. For spring break I made a lengthy list of spring cleaning chores to do around the house. Everything necessary - weather, time, materials - lined up to make completion of the list a possibility. I came into the week mentally drained but physically charged. The physical labor is what I needed to relax following a stressful month.
The attractive results (flower beds and vegetable garden) of the labor were just an added bonus.
Then I started unloading the gardening supplies.
Doing anything on the list came to an immediate halt while I carried a 64 quart bag of potting soil. I turned to go around the corner of my house and felt pain shoot across my lower back and down my legs. I was not lifting. I was not lowering. I was just walking.
This is the third time in just over a year that I have hurt my back. As much as I hate going to the gym, this is a wake-up call that I have to get in and work on my core strength. Like it or not, I am aging and I have to do more to take care of my body to keep it functioning the way I expect it to.
Two days later I was still just sitting. Aspercreme, Aleve, Ibuprofen and a folded towel behind my back. Two days of anything but relaxation.
The worst thing about sitting around for over two days with a to-do list going undone is that that it only increases my stress level. I looked forward to the physical activity releasing my mental stress. Having my hands dirty and breathing the outdoor air does wonders for my mental state.
The interruption does exactly the opposite.
I have been able to fill the time reading, writing, and discovering there is absolutely nothing on television worth watching.
I have found some professional Twitter discussions to join.
I cannot just sit here and do nothing productive. Even if I am not completing the to-do list, I find options to replace it.
My landscaping may be left wanting, but I am a few months ahead on my blog work (yes, I do some things in draft well in advance) and I am well into a couple books of professional reading. Considering those things I am finding some positive use for my time confined to the chair.
Another positive to the time in the chair was that I healed more quickly than if I had tried to power through and do what physical labor I could. By the fourth day I was moving almost normally. I still winced from time to time as I made a move my body was not ready to make, but I was able to pack for a trip (I was able to make the trip after fearing for a few days that I would have to cancel) and leave the house somewhat orderly for my return.
The garden to-do list remains undone. Here we have a very short spring before withering summer heat diminishes the productivity of most garden plants. Until it is complete, I am keeping my weekends free and I am avoiding anything over twenty-five pounds.