Chapter 11 – Free Time and Relaxation

Happy Friday!

My number one tip for anybody who has been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder is to pick up Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele and Onno Van Der Hart. It’s educational, practical, and therapist-recommended. 

Last week we learned how to schedule work and life-critical priorities. This week, it’s all about:

The rules of play.

It’s not too surprising that dissociative parts can feel conflicted about how you relax and recharge. “Working parts” can be phobic of unstructured time, particularly if it allows memories or emotions to surface. Guilt about productivity, money, and responsibilities can drive you to feel that free time is wasted time. In the past you may even have learned to fear letting your guard down, and you may associate having fun with punishment and pain.

As always, the answer is a combination of seeking inner guidance, identifying conflict without judgement, listening with empathy, and respecting each others needs and feelings.

When conflict emerges over fun or relaxing activities, be curious.

Ask what the risk or fear might be. Uncover where it comes from, and take a fresh look around to see if those risks are still valid now. Unpack your feelings, and try to work as a team on the solution.  

As with Chapter 10, homework is about figuring yourself out. What do all of you like to do, to relax? What’s fun for each part, and what activities are enjoyed by more than one part? What creates feelings of joy, pride or satisfaction? You’ll also need to ask yourself, honestly, candidly, and probably multiple times, why relaxing is hard. There are a helpful list of reasons it could be, most of which I circled.  

Finally, the chapter wraps up with a few relaxation exercises. In my own practice this week, I’ve found that a 20 minute relaxation exercise at the start of my “free time” makes a huge difference in my ability to relax, focus and get into the flow more easily.

Next week we’re talking about physical self-care, including drugs, alcohol, and medication. I’m nervous just thinking about it, and that’s usually a sign it’ll be super relevant 🙂  See you there.


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