Are you the kind of person who loves to be busy? Do you pride yourself on productivity? Do you feel bad on those days when you’ve slumped on the sofa and not done very much? Well, perhaps you’re also one of those people who feels guilty about relaxing.
We now live in a world that glamorises being busy. We think that the more we can do, the better. If we can be successful at work, have a family, do 3 hobbies, meet friends every weekend and work towards all of our goals, amongst many other tasks, we think that’s what equals being a good, functioning human being. We say “I’m busy” like it’s a wonderful thing, and in some ways it is, but not if we are sacrificing our wellbeing at the cost of it.
I admit, I am a bit of a productivity-addict. I love to commit myself to lots of projects on the go because I find it fun, exciting and a great learning opportunity too. But, I can also admit that, as a result of it, it has made me feel guilty about relaxing in the past. And over the last couple years I’ve learnt that relaxing isn’t just a reward, it’s a necessity.
When the mind has created a thought pattern, it’s very difficult to get out of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think those days when I would feel guilty about relaxing, I would have thoughts such as: “I’m wasting my time” and “I could be more successful with my goals if I got up and did [said task].” The truth is, relaxing is never a waste of time if you use it wisely.
Strangely enough, I’ve found it a lot easier to relax since I’ve graduated. Perhaps other university students can relate, because when you have a schedule that is not 9-5 and you are expected to produce assignments and do extra research outside of studies, it does make you feel like you should be working 24/7. Even the university library is open 24/7, as if it’s promoting students to stay up all night.
However, after university, I’ve found it easier to switch off after the end of a work day. No one is expecting me to work then. And I don’t feel guilty about not working on the weekends because it’s totally normal not to, whereas at university I often would.
If you have or have had similar struggles with feeling guilty about relaxing, know that you aren’t alone and there are many ways you can start to tackle it so that you get that much-needed rest.
Try these 4 tips to help you feel less guilty about relaxing:
- Remind yourself of your achievements – If you struggle to relax, you’re likely always looking ahead at the next step, rather than valuing everything you’ve achieved so far. So, bask in your achievements. Don’t feel bad about doing so.
- Give yourself a “logging off” time – Whether you’re working 9-5, studying at university or running your own business, set yourself a specific time each night to completely switch off. And you can even turn off your phone too. After this time, you’re allowed to relax. Nothing will stop you.
- Think of the long term – In the short term, relaxing may seem like a waste of time, but in the long term it is releasing tension, boosting your wellbeing and putting you in a more positive and productive mindset for the following day, so you can actually achieve more than if you hadn’t relaxed at all.
- Try active-relaxing activities – For those who find it hard to sit still and relax, choose activities that are relaxing yet also feel a little bit productive, such as going for a walk, meeting with a friend, or reading a book.
Do you feel guilty about relaxing? What tips do you use to overcome it?
I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.