170 // Relaxation and Mental Health

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As any good genie will warn you; be careful what you wish for. That is actually an incomplete quote by W. W. Jacobs, who, to the best of my knowledge, is not a genie. He was an author of short humorous stories though, with his most well known work being the famous book ‘The Monkeys Paw’*. It is with the Monkeys Paw that the owner can make 3 wishes, and as you might expect they don’t turn out well.

I don’t have a monkeys paw, but I have been making a few wishes lately, the first one was for a big bag of pic n’ mix a bit of time to relax. You see, over the last 3 to 4 weeks I have been so busy that I’d be running on around 4 hours of sleep a night. Now, I’m no Oneirologist*, but I think over the long term that might be detrimental to my health. And when I say health, I obviously mean your ‘real’ health, the one you can touch, your physical health.

I actually find that my mental health, in busy periods,  actually improves. My lack of energy seems to dull my brain, the various jobs and tasks distract my mind even further. I don’t think it comes as any coincidence that these 3 or 4 weeks have been some of the happier ones in the last… couple of years? Dare I say.

That presents a little conundrum and if theres one thing I love, its drums – they sound awesome. I’m presented with a choice; either I fill my days with lots of tasks and little sleep to improve my mental health, or I do less tasks and sleep more to improve my physical well being.

Now the irony here is, that there is no conundrum at all, because you’d have to be mentally ill not to take the physical ill health option. I mean for starters if you have diabetes* you won’t get turned away by your health service provider, you won’t be at risk of losing your job, you’ll be free from shame, you’ll get a few days off work, not to mention the shower of sympathies directed towards you.

I’d love to take that option*, but unfortunately the list of chores and tasks have ran dry. The apartment is clean, the clothes are packed, furniture is sold, I’ve de-registered in the country, closed my health insurance account, had a criminal record check, met my landlord and everything else that goes with it. Its all done. All that is left to do now is… nothing, just relax. Oh great! That is what I’ve been wishing for this whole time.

Well, today I got it.

We were up at 6am to catch a train from Vienna to Ostrava, in the Czech Republic. Clearly not a place for tourists, as even the train conductor had a look of surprise when she checked our tickets – ‘really? Ostrava?’. So there we were 3 hours on a train with nothing but my thoughts, ah shit, not those again. I was just starting to forget I had those.

Here in lies the problem with relaxation. It is sold as the absence of something, but it is a lie – don’t believe the marketing. Relaxation doesn’t just happen when you have nothing else to do, it is a verb, a doing word, it is an activity. And if it were a sport, I would not be the world champion’s second cousin. It is in the same bracket as fun, fun doesn’t just occur when you enter a theme park or a night club, you still have to create it.

I’m not entirely well practiced when it comes to relaxation of late, and I’m not sure our venture to Poland tomorrow will be the catalyst. Especially when a trip to Auschwitz follows. Oh well, time to go find a Monkey Paw I think.

Paul Green

*I hadn’t heard of it either.

*Someone who studies sleep.

*Mental disorders are responsible for more than deaths annually than diabetes.

*When I say love, love is a very subjective word. I’d actually love neither diabetes nor mental health issues.




Read more, its good for you.

About Me

166 // Schools Know Nothing

Always There: A Stranger and Mindfump.


  1. Matthew Malin

    Hauntingly ironic that our most sought after state of being (relaxed) can most often become our worst enemy. I can relate to you on the being too busy to be caught up as I can relate to the flip side. I suppose, for those of us that suffer, a fair balance is to be had. Can’t have one without the other…Well, you can, but you may still be miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shubham Paul

    “Relaxation doesn’t just happen when you have nothing else to do, it is a verb, a doing word, it is an activity.”
    Really true. You get chill when you do something you love. I feel relaxed when I work for myself and feel like an ox when I study academic books. Ha.
    I enjoyed it. Live fully.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ibizagoldgirl

    During my twenties I was considered something of a highly talented plate spinner! I cannot imagine (now) how I could consider so many plates or how I would keep them all going. I think that is why I am late to realise my mental instability, I’ve always been busy. I went on courses and studied to ‘relax’ because staying at home doing not much stressed me, even holidays have an itinerary and check list. Sleep fleets.
    I’m sorry I didn’t say hi the other day as I noticed you were awake at the same time as me (not good).
    I hope the trip gives you much to contemplate and ponder and I wish you all the Luck & Best Wishes over the next few weeks. Look after yourself and I’m looking to reading all about it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. S. Hansen

    Have you not seen that episode of The Simpsons with the monkey paw? I think it was a Halloween special because you really do have to be careful what you wish for.
    But I first learned that lesson as a youngster who watched The Queen’s Nose. I don’t know if you saw it, it was a British show so I assume it was on TV for you. But not only did it teach me that lesson but know whenever I get a new 50p I make a very specific wish while rubbing the coin… so far still not rich.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. trudi

    Very good. I like it. For me, the ultimate relaxing day is a sort of steady, continual, unbroken and gentle cycle of interesting but ultimately undemanding activity.

    Utopia. It happens rarely!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. MentalChillness

    This is an awesome post about the problem of relaxation. I always forget to keep some sort of schedule when I’m on break and it always results in a few terrible days before I remember that routines are still necessary on vacation, even if they are more relaxed and more fun.


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