Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why Type A Personalities Need to Learn to Relax

As I make my way back to California after a week’s vacation, I feel the usual things that come with a week off: a sense of calm and peace, and that typically elusive sense that life is good, predictable, and kind.

Of course, these feelings are fleeting because life is filled with so many obligations. Yet vacation offers one of the opportunities for us to let our hair down (little as we may have), and I rememebered this past week how important it is to simply do…nothing.

The world is full of all sorts of people: some are harried workaholics, others flounder, and a large portion probably lives somewhere in the middle. Me? Without doubt, I fall toward the workaholic end of the spectrum, constantly beset by the sense that there is more to do, larger goals to set and achieve. For this reason, I often choose vacation spots that offer high levels of stimulation: cities packed with both people and activities, or new regions that beg for exploration. That said, this past vacation was different. Quite literally, I did nothing. Though I’m certain my heart was beating day-in, day-out (my proof is that I’m alive and awake to type this on my final day of vacation), I surrendered to the peace and quiet of a quiet seaside town on Cape Cod and amused myself with simply walks on the beach and staring out at the ocean.

I must admit that there were moments when I felt the sudden slam of anxiety: What am I going to do for the next several hours this afternoon? Typically we have so much to do that the problem is what should we do, but what do we have to do next? Yet after a week of true R & R, I realize the value in occasionally taking a vacation to a place that encourages the art of doing nothing. After all, it’s only when you clear your environment of nonstop stimulation that you let your mind wander and find its own internal resting place. Yes, it brings with it its own unique consequences: I can’t tell you how many times during the last week I lost my train of thought. Simply put, my body wasn’t the only part of me at rest this week – my brain was actually resting, too.

So, if I learned anything from this past week that I can share with you, it is this: If you are lucky enough to indulge in two vacations each year, choose them with balance in mind. Create one vacation that offers excitement and stimulation, and create another that offers…nothing. This balance will reward you with a happiness and peace that sustains you over the long haul when you return to work, responsibilities, and – well, enough said. I probably shouldn’t erase the final day of my vacation by reminding myself too emphatically of what lies immediately ahead.

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