Friday, February 17, 2012

The Importance of Relaxing

See this? This is what I want to be doing.

Relaxation.  The most wonderful R word ever.  Except for maybe reading.  Or racecar.  Just how important is relaxation anyway?

It is the difference between life and death.  Really.  

The human brain and body are extraordinary machines that every science fiction writer tries to make of cyborgs.  There will never be a more complex, efficient machine than the human system.  Our brains are capable of more processes a second than whatever fancy piece of technology you're reading this on.  Our bodies are capable of movement so fine that our brains still haven't found a way to replicated it in a robotic being.  Everything is connected by weird organic wires and filaments so tiny that the smallest gust of wind could break them.  And yet, in this chaos, everything works in perfect tandem.  Most of the time, every separate component is working so well that we don't even know it's working until it stops.  We're that amazing. 

Unfortunately, like 'real' machines, we do break.  Whether by doing battle with words on a screen, or just plain working too hard, we eventually wear down and demand maintenance.  Just like a car needs oil every few thousand miles, we humans and our brains need relaxation every few days (or hours).  And generally, when one things goes, it quickly feels like everything else is, too.  It begins in the brain.

Our brains, amazing computers that they are, need...stupid time.  Yeah, I said it.  Stupid time.  Put down that manuscript, hang up the phone, turn off the computer.  Get away from technology.  It's like the Jedi mantra, Technology leads to stress, stress leads to frustration, frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to the dark side.  Don't get caught in the dark side.  When you relax, technology is the last thing you should be thinking about.

If, by some weird, infinitessimal chance you don't let your brain rest for a little while, your body will break.  No joke.  The brain, clever cat that it is, starts sending messages to your heart, to your kidneys, to your freaking immune system command center (whatever that is).  And your brain will force you to relax.  Don't let things get to this point.  

As creative people, we're often too busy being creative, that we don't know how to stop being creative.  So find something relaxing and creative to do (or, you know, pop in a movie and relax on that La-Z-Boy, you dog you). Whatever it is, take the time and enjoy what you're doing without worrying about the result.  Our novels tear holes in our hearts and heads.  Find something to do that won't.

And, like writing, if you don't have time to relax...make time.  Your art will love you for it, and I can guarantee that you'll have a greater love and appreciation for your art when you're rested and ready to come back to it.

So, tell me.  How do you relax?  How does your quality of work differ when you're stressed and when you're rested?  you're rested?  

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