Can you spend five minutes doing absolutely nothing? Or have you conditioned yourself to so much hustle and bustle that you can't relax, even if you try?

The ultimate challenge!

Can you spend five minutes doing absolutely nothing? Or have you conditioned yourself to so much hustle and bustle that you can't relax, even if you try? The other day I had the rare occasion of being completely alone at home. My husband and children were out on errands or with friends. I was cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, and throwing in a load of laundry. As soon as I would sit down for a moment, I would remember something else I had to do, and back up I'd go. I can't explain this odd behavior, but I am definitely a victim of it. Life on fast forward I'll never forget a story a speaker told of getting a relaxation CD from a friend. She felt to be sincere in her thank you letter she really should listen to it once. She got in her lazy boy chair, leaned back, and turned it on. After two minutes of music and seagulls, she found herself reaching over to put the relaxation tape on fast forward! That story says it all.It is not easy for most of us to give ourselves time and more importantly permission to relax. Will we ever retire? I used to fantasize about retirement and the empty nest. My vision was a sofa with lots of pillows and a big stack of books to read all day long. Well, I recently took early retirement from my corporate job to start a small business. I must be a glutton for punishment. In a small business you wear all the hats. I admit I love it. I am learning all sorts of new things and meeting new people. Relaxation tips Some may say how can relaxing be that hard? Well I'm convinced the hard part is to reprogram your mind to accept the fact that relaxing is a good thing. Relaxation refreshes your mind, making you more productive and creative (not to mention easier to live with!) Relaxation puts you back in control of your life. You choose to get off the busy treadmill your life has become. Relaxation puts joy in your life. To be honest, I'm still working on the reprogramming. Here are some methods I have found to work. •Be bold – Take one whole day to relax and have fun with family and friends. Don't plan it, just do it. Sunday is a good day; after all it is the official day of rest. •Each day do some small thing just for the joy it brings you. Call a friend to chat, go out for ice cream with one of your children, go for a walk with your husband, or volunteer at you child's school for an hour. •Spend 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day to sit in a chair and breathe deeply and let your mind wander in silence. Take the ultimate challenge – relax! Until next time, hang in there, if I can do it, you can do it! Guest columnist Karen Murphy is a working mother who lives in Dublin with her husband and four daughters. Reach her at kmurphy@wpss.biz.