Relaxation: To each his own
Man is perhaps the only creature whose worries extend beyond its immediate needs. Worrying, for the modern human, is second nature. From mere disturbance to exasperation and intense aggravation, worries manifest themselves in all shapes and sizes. But luckily, he is also perhaps the only species that knows better than to give in to the spectre of relentless worrying.
People use a multitude of techniques and strategies to allow their minds and bodies to relax.
Azra, a 37-year-old housewife, says that she watches television ‘selectively’ to relax. She says she avoids watching the news which makes her tense, and instead prefers watching quality dramas on local channels. Real life, she says, is sometimes too stressful to cope with.
Indulging in fantasy can be healthy as long as the fine line into escapism is not crossed. According to reliable internet sources, the global entertainment industry is worth close to $3 trillion annually. The top two sellers are, unfortunately, alcohol and recreational drugs, totalling approximately $1.7 trillion.
Sehar, a local socialite, says that an occasional drink and smoke help her clear her head, and claims that occasional indulgence makes it easier for her to relax. She does warn that over-dependence on substances is a slippery slope that one must avoid at all costs.
As we are increasingly exposed to the West, our lifestyles are changing accordingly. Soccer now has become a massively popular sport amongst the younger lot in cities like Karachi. Seventeen-year-old Moazzam, speaks of his passion for ‘football’ as being incomparable to any of his other interests. His Facebook profile and often his clothes, support his claim. He actively plays football and finds it very relaxing and rewarding. When not on the field, he says, he is usually glued to ESPN watching soccer matches.
Massage therapy, and general pampering, is not a new way for women to relax. It has, however, become much more accessible to women now. Women like Sukaina (a product manager) and Onaiza (a senior manager at a not-for-profit organisation) visit the salon at least once a week for a relaxing massage, a facial and other ‘essentials’. This relaxing regimen, they insist, helps them unwind after a hard week’s work.
The most common technique used for relaxation is ‘working out’. It was surprising, yet encouraging, to meet people like Eric, a young banker, and Amina, a middle-aged teacher, who have managed to convert a healthy (read difficult) activity into a relaxing and pleasurable one. As to how they discovered the therapeutic element of exercise, they say that they initially started doing it for health and cosmetic benefits, but soon got ‘addicted’ to it. Now, it seems, they cannot relax any other way.
A deceptively simple relaxation technique is ‘spending time with the family’. Human interaction and familiarity are powerful stress-relievers. Qasim, a 57-year-old businessman, is of the opinion that there is nothing more enjoyable and soothing than being with one’s family and watching children play. While children are often a source of stress to parents, somehow they always seem to compensate!
The success of all these various techniques of relaxing depends on one common denominator — a healthy, positive attitude.
People with an attitude-advantage make use of what life hands them. If life hands them lemons, they make lemonade; if they end up with the short end of the stick, they use it to make matches and proceed to light firecrackers with it. These people are creative, enterprising and proactive. They do not complain when they reach home after a hard day’s work. Nor do they blame fate or their families or the government. They make some tea, put a smile on their faces and kick back and relax. Relaxation then, more than just a state of being, is an action that is actively performed. Much like happiness, relaxation is achieved not merely through having things, or doing things to oneself, but through developing a healthy sense of being in a continuously evolving reality.
Finally, some kind of stress makes for an interesting life. A life without stress would be rather bland:
Chalaa jaataa huun hanstaa
kheltaa mauj-i-havaadis se,
Agar aasaaniaan ho zindagii
dushwaar ho jaaye!—Asghar Gondwi
(I go about life playing with the tides of tribulation, Life would be a burden without this burden).